Anne Felknor, a member of the KGH Class of 1922, enrolled in the United States Student Nurse Reserve in December, 1918.
Following is a description of the World War I effort to relieve trained nurses for deployment on the European front lines:
United States Student Nurse Reserve
The government is calling for 25,000 young women to join the United States Student Nurse Reserve and hold themselves in readiness to train for service as nurses.
The war is creating an unprecedented demand for trained nurses. Only those who have taken the full training course are eligible for service with our forces overseas. These nurses are being drawn largely from our hospitals at home. Their places must be filled by student nurses enrolled for the full training course of from two to three years. Every young woman who enrolls in the United States Student Nurse Reserve is releasing. a nurse for service at the front and swelling the home army which we must rely on to act as our second line of hospital defense. Upon the health of the American people will depend the spirit of their fighting forces.
The call is for women between the ages of nineteen and thirty-five. Intelligent, responsible women of good education and sound health are wanted — the pick of the country. A college education is a valuable asset, and many hospitals will give credit for it. Credit will also be given for a special scientific equipment or for preliminary training in nursing, such as that given in special courses now being conducted by various colleges and schools. Some schools, on the other hand, do not even require a full high-school education.
Women will be given an opportunity to enroll in the United States Students Nurse Reserve in any one of three ways: (1) As engaging to hold themselves in readiness until April 1, 1919, to accept assignments to nurses’ training schools. These women will be sent to the schools as fast as vacancies occur. Those of superior qualifications will be given preference, and it is, of course, possible that not every one who enrolls will be accepted. (2) As desiring to become candidates for the Army Nursing School recently established by authority of the War Department, with branch schools in selected military hospitals. (3) As engaging to hold themselves in readiness until April 1, 1919, to accept assignments to either a civilian training school or the Army Nursing School. Those who so enroll will be called where the first need arises. The government hopes that a majority of those who enroll will thus put down their names for both.
There are 1,579 nurses’ training schools in this country. Their need is as great and imperative as that of the Army School of Nursing. Those who enroll for these schools will be assigned as vacancies occur.
The enrollment card will indicate two classes of registrants—preferred and deferred. The preferred class will be those who are readyto accept assignment to whatever hospital the government directs them, although they may state what training school they prefer to be sent to. Those who register in the preferred class will be assigned first, and all possible consideration will be given to their preference as stated. The deferred class is composed of those who limit their pledge of service—that is, who will not engage to go except to certain hospitals. This class is intended largely for those who, for family reasons, can not accept training at a distance from their homes. Those who register in the deferred class will be assigned only after the preferred class is exhausted. The government relies on the patriotism of those who enroll to fill out preferred cards if they possibly can, thus volunteering to go where they are most needed. Nobody will be assigned to any schools whose conditions of training are not approved by the State Board of Nurse Examiners.
The term of training varies from two to three years, according to the requirements of the particular school to which the student nurse may be sent. No course takes less than two years nor more than three.
At present every woman who completes satisfactorily her training in any accredited school is eligible for service as an Army nurse at the front and stands a chance of being assigned to duty abroad. At the same time she will be qualified to earn her living in one of the noblest professions open to women. It should be remembered, furthermore, that her usefulness will begin not when she graduates from the training school but as soon as she enters it. Practical nursing work is a part of the work of every training school, and the student nurse is not only learning to serve but serving her country from the outset.
The student nurse gets her board, lodging, and tuition free at practically every training school, and in most cases receives a small remuneration to cover the cost of books and uniforms. After graduation she has an earning capacity of from $100 to $300 a month. Private-duty nurses now receive an average of from $100 to $120 a month together with board while on duty; institution nurses from $50 to $250 a month together with board, lodging and laundry; and public-health nurses from $100 to $250 a month without maintenance.
Source: School and Society, vol. VIII (July-December, 1918). Ed. by J. McKee Cattell. New York and Garrison, NY: The Science Press; pages 108-109.