The Invention of the CAT Scan and its Impact on Nursing Shortage

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My research question is “How did the invention of the CAT scan impact education in nursing and their training in America in the 1970s?”. I chose these two sources to evaluate in order to state the values and limitation within each one. Source 1: Nurse education swings to new tactics in 1970’s This source was published on March 2009 by the Thomas Jefferson University under Jefferson Nursing. One limitation I noticed about this paper was the publication year, 2009. There is a thirty year gap in this secondary source, which made me wonder why it took thirty years to write the source. The purpose of this source is to have the information by showing significances in the changes in nursing during the 1970’s; this was very useful for my paper because it allowed me to determine the events, such as The Nursing Training Act revision in 1975, that changed the technological ideas for nursing school. The content in this source gives insightful information on the different tactics that were used, such as an increase in student training and longer working shifts. A value from this source is that the article is told from different perspectives, and this allowed me to determine my argument apart from my other sources while gaining an insider’s perspective, yet this can be considered as a limitation since the perspectives did not explain the new challenges that arose in nursing training and education. For example, there was a very brief paragraph about the details in each curriculum in “the credits that were assigned for first year nursing such as psychology (3)”, but it does not explain why nor how those courses were chosen when pursuing the nursing career.

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This limitation allowed me to research more on this area and find my second evaluated source. Source 2: A Look At Hospital Nursing During the 1970s This source was published by Frieda Paton on January 19, 2017 and is a primary source because Paton was a student registered nurse during the years of the CAT invention. This publication is valuable due to the author, in 1970, being “accepted as a student nurse into the only degree at the time”, yet it can become a limitation because it was written through her perspective as she was explaining what she did during those years and how she decided to do them. For example, Patron was expected to understand how to operate a CAT scan after she had just finished her education that did not have the technological advances involved.

The purpose of this source is to supply a daily routine from the 1970s and outline what was expected from registered nurses before, during and after the new inventions. The source’s content explained the government impacts that took place, such as the new federal grants that were taking place, and the pros and cons that Paton dealt with while she was a registered nurse, yet this value’s limitation was that the pros and cons were viewed through one perspective. Another value that I noticed was that this source had focused more on the CAT scans than the other sources, yet a limitation with this value is that the source only spoke about the CAT scan being a consequence in Paton’s challenges when becoming a nurse. Part B: Research Paper The medical field had a vast influence on America in the 1970’s by having provided specific medication for illnesses, such as the common cold, to contributing with any medical assistance that was needed during the Vietnam War.

Looking through an American nurse’s perspective, the 1970’s for America would be best considered as a “booming period” that sparked an interest to many Americans in wanting to be part of the medical field. The “booming period” would cause an increase in the supply of nursing organizations and have influential developments for grants towards new training programs. Because of the new technological advances such as the CAT scan, the American government increased the original amount of salaries and provided more paid programs; this new change caused more Americans to pursue the medical field as new courses and training were being enforced in medical schools. The CAT scan, which is an acronym for Computerized Axial Tomography, was invented in the year 1972 by two scientists named Godfrey Hounsfield, who was a British engineer of EMI laboratories, and Allan Cormack, who was a South African born physicist of Tufts University. The CAT scan is a machine that allows doctors to be able to see inside the human body, without having to physically open that part of the body to be able to see a potential problem inside, by using a combination of both X-rays and a specially designed computer that then creates images of organs, bones, and other tissues, which is more detailed and less harmful than just a normal X-ray.

A CAT scan uses a certain tool that can be described as a narrow X-ray beam around one part of your body and circles around the area that has provided images from different angles to avoid missing any possibility for errors. An example for an appropriate reason to use a CAT scan would be when checking a certain area of the body for a disease, such as a tumor, and then be able to figure out if there is a possibility to remove the tumor without having to harm any other organs in the process.1 CAT scans are also often used as a preferred tool for diagnosing numerous types of cancer, such as lung cancer, due to the image allowing a confirmation on a presence of any foreign activity inside the human. Because this invention was brand new, it caused many people to question whether or not it was safe to use, which lead to the device to gain a quick disadvantage. Prior to the CAT scan invention, the role of nurses began gaining a negative connotation through the middle social class perspective as Americans were only noticing that the student debt outweighed the annual salary nurses were receiving.

For example, in 1966, a registered nurse was earning an average of 26,000 dollars annually. In response to that, the National Commission for the Study of Nursing and Nursing Education, NCSNNE, convened in 1967 to look over and discuss the potential problems that were occurring in nursing education and lead up to the new changes in the training to become a nurse. This commission was funded by multiple foundations, such as the NCSNNE itself, in order to receive An Abstract for Action. Because of this, a formal review over current issues occurring in the nursing profession took place with the following: the existence of nurse shortages due to the lack of interest in that occupation, confusion over the roles and functions of nurses in the health care system, and a lack of an appropriate educational setting in which to educate nurses in retaining to long-term jobs.

People had began to lose interest in jobs that were part of the medical field because of all of the student loans that go into the career being greater than their potential earnings. In doing this action, the commission came to a conclusion of four essential ideas in order to change the current motif of being a nurse by: an increase in research with the practice and education, improve the nursing educational system, distinguish the difference in the roles of nursing with other health professions, and provide financial support to ensure the number of nurses required for quality health care. The significance to this new idea allowed the Federal government to begin funding projects, which prepared the nurses for primary care practice and insured the American Medical Association to adopt Medicine and Nursing in the 1970’s: A Position Statement, a book written prior to the invention and the different outcomes with studying and becoming a nurse.

The transition from studying medicine before the technological advancement of the CAT scan to afterwards took longer than originally expected due to the new invention causing an increase in training while having to send nurses back to medical school to take a course on the technological advances and how to use them. After the invention of the CAT scan, the aspect in medicine was changing the education for nurses; the Nurse Training Act of 1975 had passed after the CAT scan, which as the first major revision since 1964. The Nurse Training Act added significance to the CAT scans because it gave an impact on nurses by providing financial funds for the nurse practitioner programs, which represented an increase in the demand in society for nurses as well as create a new occupation that specializes in Radiology. With these new funds being available, education for nurses was now affordable for people who could not pay for it originally. The idea behind the funds allowed nurses more hours in training that were required with the education. Because of the affordable education and change of salaries, nurses in 1975 were earning approximately 34,000, which is about 8,000 more than what was being made prior to the new machine. In conclusion, the invention of the CAT scan changed the perspective on the medical field, specifically for nurses, by giving medicine a new outlook with technological improvements. Not only did the invention change the status quo of being a nurse, but the CAT scan gave people who previously were not financially able to pay for education a chance to be able to.

The ability to help assist people who could not financially pay for their education was made possible due to the machine itself; this had then caused the government to begin providing more grants as the courses and training increased in order to be able to operate the CAT scan. The increase in grants and an increase in salaries for becoming a nurse persuaded people to want to work in the medical field. The CAT scan made a positive impact for the medical field as it provided more jobs for Americans who were becoming more interested in pursuing a career with that path as well as receive more financial help from the government in order for more people to be able to study medicine. Part C: Reflection Statement This assignment was valuable because of my set goal of wanting to pursue a career in the medical field, and I found my research topic very interesting, which benefited the research and writing process. I learned new information on how the american government had an impact on what was being taught in nursing schools, what types of federal grants were initiating to help the middle and lower classes be able to pursue this program, and the causes and consequences in the events that lead up to a shift in career change.

My research question had slight modifications throughout my research process due to limitations in my sources. For example, I did not consider any government impacts towards the new invention nor did I realize that their influence allowed more americans to want to pursue that career path until one of my sources briefly mentioned it yet not explain why it was important. After writing my research paper, I realized that it was not only the CAT scan that impacted the increase in nursing after the 1970’s but that it was the government assisting with federal grants in order to receive more americans in that field. One thing that I found quite challenging during my research process was that there were not many primary sources on what the nursing education was like with the many changes going into that, such as a nursing teacher explaining the causes and then the following consequences of those causes. I then realized that the reason behind that limitation is that not many teachers in that area focused on recording the changes yet were more focused on how to understand the changes themselves. There were many ways I could have gone with this research paper, but I chose to look at the technological advances because the sources I found did not discuss the significance of the changes in technology affecting the education and training for nursing.


  1. ‘Medicine and Madison Avenue.’ Duke Digital Collections. Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘Medicine and Nursing in the 1970s a Position Statement.’ AORN Journal. May 18, 2007. Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘Nursing Education Swings to New Tactics in 1970’s.’ Thomas Jefferson University Jefferson Digital Commons. 1982. Accessed November 15, 2018. Blevins, S. J. ‘The Role of the Radiology Nurse.’ Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 1994. Accessed November 15, 2018.
  2. ‘A Look At Hospital Nursing During the 1970’s: What Was It Like?’ Nurseslabs. August 27, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘School of Nursing, 1910-1978.’ CATCH Program | Missoula, MT | Providence Montana. Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘1960 – 1989.’ Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing • Penn Nursing. Accessed November 15, 2018.
  3. Scheckel, Martha. ‘Nursing Education: Past, Present, Future.’ Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘Report Archives on the Nursing Shortage.’ American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘Medicine and Nursing in the 1970s.’ JAMA. September 14, 1970. Accessed November 15, 2018. ‘AMA History.’ Selecting & Using a Health Information Exchange | AMA. Accessed November 15, 2018. Historical Perspectives on an Expanded Role for Nursing. Accessed November 15, 2018.
  4. ‘The World of Nursing – Then and Now.’ American Nurse Today. September 15, 2014. Accessed January 07, 2019. ‘Nursing Practice.’ The 1950s | Washington State Nurses Association. Accessed January 07, 2019. ‘The History of Nursing Education in the U.S.’ Healthcare Learning Innovations. Accessed January 07, 2019. March, 2008 3. ‘Nursing in the 1970’s: ‘You Are Here to Do the Work, so Get on with It’.’ Nursing Times. Accessed January 07, 2019. Greenwood, Beth. ‘How Have Salaries Changed for Nurses.’ November 09, 2016. Accessed January 08, 2019. 
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The Invention of the CAT Scan and Its Impact on Nursing Shortage. (2022, Sep 06). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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