Nursing Across the Ages

by Sean N. Bennett

About this Project

Why a Free Textbook?

This project was inspired by Utah Valley University President Matthew S. Holland, who had a dream of decreasing the cost of higher education by making textbooks available for free online. My students and I created this e-textbook because of our love for nursing and a desire to give back to our profession.

When I ask nursing students "What are your career goals?" I frequently get the answer "I don't know. Does that really matter?" When I hear that I flashback to the story of Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Alice is talking to the Cheshire Cat and asks

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

'I don't much care where--' said Alice.

'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

If we do not know where we are coming from, we can't know where we are going. Our nursing roots are deeply embedded in history. As long as there have been people on this earth, there have been nurses. We frequently hear about the "famous" nurses when nursing history is discussed. This e-textbook will address some of those nurses, but more often than not will address nurses that are not so familiar. Some you may never have heard of before. The hope is to see these nurses as real people, to learn about them and ensure they are not forgotten from history.

Prior to this e-textbook being on the Internet I used articles and Web pages instead of textbooks. Why no textbook? That's easy. Textbooks are expensive and are moored in the same technology used several centuries ago with the invention of the Gutenberg Press. Textbooks are costly to ship, can be deleterious to the environment, are as antiquated as newspapers, and textbooks will likely not be around in paper form by the year 2030 when most readings will be electronic.

Cost of Textbooks on the Rise

Over the last several decades the cost of textbooks has outpaced inflation at a phenomenal rate. USA Today reported that over the past 35+ years the average cost of tuition and fees has risen (35%) faster than personal income, consumer prices and even health insurance (Block, 2007). This increases the financial burden on college students at UVU and elsewhere who are trying to afford a bachelor’s degree.

If you are using this textbook for any purpose we would like to hear from you. Please email us at We hope this e-textbook is useful and enjoyable.

Design & Delivery

This on-line textbook is specially formatted for three delivery methods.

Laptop or computer display

The fixed width display insures that text and images stay in the same place just as they do in a textbook. The sans-serif font used was designed specifically for low resolution screens.


There are still some learners who prefer a printed textbook so they can highlight or read off-line. When these chapters are printed, the non-essential navigation elements have been removed and the text is rendered using a font appropriate for print. Research indicates that fonts with serifs are easier to read on paper.


With the increase in the number of students using mobile learning devices, we have designed this on-line book to display on an phones and tablets.