(Un)fit to Nurse: Efficiency and Discipline at the Philippine General Hospital, 1898–1916

Ren Capucao

National Library of Medicine

Thursday, April 25, 2024 2:00 pm EDT

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On August 29, 1916, a strike of over 100 student nurses erupted at the Philippine General Hospital, placing its operations at a standstill for two days. The student nurses rallied around the suicide of fellow student Florentina Papa, alleging the disciplinary culture of the hospital was at fault. Tensions between the students and the administrators, however, had been escalating since May when the director of the hospital mandated more intensive physical training into the curriculum to improve the efficiency of nursing services. This presentation explores the strike amidst the formative years of Philippine nursing under the American insular government and the racialized and gendered discourse of (dis)ability that marked the bodies and minds of Filipino nurses. It draws on extensive records from the NLM, the National Archives, and the University of the Philippines Manila Heritage Project.