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critical care, history, nursing, technology, work force



  1. Fairman, Julie PhD, RN
  2. Kagan, Sarah PhD, RN


This article examines the development of critical care nursing from 1950 to 1965 through the lens of a local story-the development of the critical care unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The methodology used is social history. The data for the analysis were derived from oral history interviews, archival material, and secondary sources. The study concludes that powerful social contextual factors, such as work force and economic issues, architectural changes, and an increasingly complex hospital population-rather than new technology-supported the development of critical care. The study also provides parallels to contemporary nurse work force issues.