The Role of Nursing in the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919

Posted: March 31, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, scholars are both searching for new ways to combat the virus and looking at past viral outbreaks responses for solutions. 

College of Nursing alumni and Chair of the Dean's Advisory Board, Dr. Karen Robinson, published an article while getting her doctorate degree at UT Austin that examines the Spanish Flu pandemic, and the role of nursing in that time. The Spanish Flu came in three waves, killing more than 22 million people across the globe within a 12-month span.  She describes the overwhelming task of meeting patient care needs and how nursing played a vital role.  

"Just as the horrors of World War I were winding down, millions of people were stricken by an influenza epidemic that displaced war as the tragic focus of everyday life. The disease was known as the Spanish influenza and was pan­demic in scope. Since the epidemic defied the capabilities of prevailing medicine, good nursing care was the best predictor of outcome. Nurses came to the rescue by working long, hard and tirelessly. One important outcome of the epidemic was a general recognition of the visiting nurse service and all nursing as a valuable and essential community service."  - Dr. Karen Robinson, FAAN 

Read Dr. Robinson's entire article, "The Role of Nursing in the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919"