"DOCTORS ARE SCARCE"
KENDALL THIBEAULT and EMILY PRENTISS
GROUP I, TEAM 6
Research / Analysis
With so many doctors serving in the military during World War II, there was a desperate need for assistants in the medical field. For years, women had been expected to stay at home and raise families, but with the vast number of men gone, new opportunities appeared. Nurses became highly valued. Emily Yellin writes, “At the time, joining the Red Cross was an opportunity for adventure and challenge never before available to women.”1 Nurses worked at hospitals on the home front; many would go to war.
The Red Cross [began] huge campaigns for nurses. The recruitment poster, “Doctors Are Scarce,” published in 1943, was an obvious attempt to attract . . . women to the Red Cross. There are large, red, bold, capital letters; the text is accompanied by two symbols, one for Civil Defense, the other for the Red Cross. The organization sent approximately 7,000 women overseas, demonstrating that recruitment efforts were successful. Nurses were asked to complete “techniques once performed by physicians.”2 In [battle] conditions, including those at Anzio, “medical personnel earned the awe and respect of the fighting men.”3
Women involved in the Red Cross “often reported that every moment of their work, and life at war, seemed infused with meaning and depth that belied the auxiliary, or sometimes even trivial, surface appearance of the duties they performed.”4 The women of the Red Cross understood the importance of the work they were doing . . . .
1Emily Yellin, Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front during World War II (New York, NY: Free Press, 2004), 175.
2Diane Burke Fessler, No Time for Fear: Voices of American Military Nurses in World War II (East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 1996), p. 6.
3Kathi Jackson, They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of World War II (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000), p. 59.
4Emily Yellin, Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front during World War II (New York, NY: Free Press, 2004), 175.