Skip to Main Content

Home Explore Careers

Licensed Practical Nurses

History

Until the 1870s, nursing care in the United States was provided by concerned individuals—usually women—who applied their practical knowledge of healing to the sick and injured. There were no formal educational programs, and nursing "know-how" was passed on informally from generation to generation.

The first U.S. school of nursing was established in 1872 at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston. By 1898 there were schools of nursing in New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. In 1938, New York State passed the first state law to require that practical nurses be licensed.

World War II greatly affected the nursing field. More nurses were recruited during this war than at any other time in history. Thousands signed up for the Cadet Nurse Corps. Licensed practical nurses played a vital role in the treatment and care of thousands of soldiers.

In the 1940s, the National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service (1941) and the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (1949) were founded to promote quality patient care and represent the interests of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Related Professions