Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life.
Before the foundation of modern nursing, members of religious orders such as nuns and monks often provided nursing-like care. Examples exist in Christian, Islamic and Buddhist traditions amongst others. Phoebe, mentioned in Romans 16 has been described in many sources as "the first visiting nurse". These traditions were influential in the development of the ethos of modern nursing. The religious roots of modern nursing remain in evidence today in many countries. One example in the United Kingdom is the use of the honorific "sister" to refer to a senior nurse
Florence Nightingale laid the foundations of professional nursing during the Crimean War. Hospital-based training came to the fore in the early 1900s, with an emphasis on practical experience. The Nightingale-style school began to disappear. Hospitals and physicians saw women in nursing as a source of free or inexpensive labour.
Many nurses saw active duty in World War I, but the profession was transformed during the second World War. British nurses of the Army Nursing Service were part of every overseas campaign. More nurses volunteered for service in the US Army and Navy than any other occupation. The Nazis had their own Brown Nurses, 40,000 strong. Two dozen German Red Cross nurses were awarded the Iron Cross for heroism under fire.

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