Mary Agnes Snively (1847-1933)


Inspiration for Activism!

  • Canadian nursing/nursing education pioneer,  credited with beginning professional nursing in Canada.
  • “Trained” at Bellevue Training Hospital in NYC, 1882-84, after spending almost 20 years as a public school teacher.
  • Upon graduation from Bellevue, hired in 1884 as lady superintendent by Toronto General Hospital, where a “Training School for Nurses” had been established 3 years earlier.
  • Immediately instituted reforms both in the unacceptable living conditions of nurses and in their curriculum:
    • Focused on knowledge required to care for patients while removing “housekeeping” kinds of tasks from their workloads;
    • Implemented an examination at the end of the initial 2-year program, which she extended to a 3-year program by 1897;
    • Convinced hospital officials to build a proper nursing residence with libraries.
  • In 1897, named president of the Society of Superintendents of Training Schools in Canada and the U.S.
  • Believed nurses needed to be organized and consolidated, advocating for fixed curriculum, uniform examinations, and a registration process.
  • In 1899, became founding member of the International Council of Nurses ICN) and served as its first treasurer.
  • In 1908, brought together nurses and nursing alumnae to form Canadian National Association of Trained Nurses (CNATN – to become Canadian Nurses Association in 1924) and became its first president.
  • Immediately forged ties with ICN so that CNATN officially became part of ICN in 1909.

More information here

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