A Look Back: The History of Nursing | Torrance Memorial

Published on April 01, 2022

A Look Back: The History of Nursing at Torrance Memorial

nursing residents

Written by Jill Biggins Gerbracht

Modern nursing was founded by Florence Nightingale, who helped challenge social norms and justify the value of educated nurses. The evolution of the nursing profession accelerated during the American Civil War as volunteer nurses helped save many lives, shaping the public’s perception of nursing.

Since formal training was introduced in the late 19th century, the vocation has led nurses from households to hospitals, schools and outpatient clinics. Over the years nurses have faced and inspired an array of changes—improving the profession, patient outcomes and the overall state of health care.

In the 1920s nurses began to work with the government to provide care for women and children, such as nutrition, social support and medical care. In 1951 the nursing occupation became more inclusive, as male nurses were allowed to join the official register. In the 1960s nurses were given more responsibility with the appearance of nurse practitioners. In the 1970s it was suggested they should be educated with degrees, and in 1973 Jean McFarlane became the first professor of nursing in England.

At Torrance Memorial, the history of nursing began in 1925 when superintendent Esther Maxwell, decorated by the French government for her service as a Red Cross nurse overseas during World War I, and six nurses made up the original team at the Jared Sidney Torrance Hospital (now Torrance Memorial Medical Center). 

In 2006 Torrance Memorial introduced its first Nurse Residency Program (NRP) to help new graduates transition into clinical practice. The six-month NRP serves as an opportunity for graduates to hone critical thinking and evidence-based decision-making skills. In the 15 years since it was first implemented, the program has graduated more than 750 resident nurses in 26 cohorts and is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. 

The Quality Caring Model was adopted in 2009 by all professional disciplines at Torrance Memorial. At the center of the model are the relationships nurses share with the patient and family, the entire healthcare team and one another. The belief is that if the eight caring factors central to the model are consistently applied to the care being delivered, the patient will feel well cared for by nurses. 

One of the most significant highlights of the hospital’s nursing program came in 2011 when Torrance Memorial became the first Magnet®-designated health organization in the South Bay. Magnet designation is one of the highest and most prestigious credentials a healthcare organization can achieve for nursing excellence and quality patient care. Only 8.28% of all U.S. hospitals hold Magnet status. Renewable every four years, Torrance Memorial has since achieved this high honor in 2016 and 2021.

Over the years, the Torrance Memorial nursing team has served as a beacon of excellence, consistently providing compassionate care through exemplary professional practice partnering with patients, families, physicians and the entire healthcare team to optimize outcomes and exceed expectations while supporting its community across the continuum of care. 

"Being a nurse to me means being here for patients at critical moments. I listen with my ears, not with my mouth. I say a prayer for them to ease their pain, to diminish worry. I hold their hands, smile and cry. I can teach them or shield them." - Cindy Manson, a 35-year registered nurse at Torrance Memorial