Florence Nightingale: The Founder of Modern Nursing Abstract Florence Nightingale believed that the nursing profession was “God’s calling” for her. Regardless, of the reputation that nurses had. Hospitals were dirty, smelly, overcrowded places that were full of diseases. Her focus was on the patients’ health. She realized that once the patients were clean and genuinely cared for, their health improved. She made sure that the hospitals were clean. In which helped diseases from spreading to others. Florence had a great impact during the Crimean War. She and her nurses saved thousands of soldiers.
She also gained the title “The Lady with the Lamp” for her late-night rounds. Florence was the first nursing theorist. One of her theories was the environmental theory which incorporated the restoration of the usual health status of the nurse’s clients into the delivery of health care. It is still practiced today. External factors surrounding patients affected their biologic, physiologic, and developmental process. She has contributed many aspects. Among them is her role in founding the modern nursing profession. Florence Nightingale Introduction Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy.
She was the daughter of wealthy parents from England. She excelled in her studies. She loved to read, write, and especially math. As Florence got older she noticed she was not happy with her lifestyle. Women of her class were supposed to get married, have children, and be among other wealthy families. Florence was only seventeen years old when she decided to go into nursing. She considered it as a “calling from God” (Hill & Howlett, 2001). Nurses in England had a reputation for being drunken, untrained and uneducated. She begged for her parents to allow her to receive nurses’ training.
They were angry towards her decision. However, this did not prevent Florence from pursuing her dream. Overview of the theorist Florence began to visit hospitals all over the world. She had a concern for the poor, the conditions that they lived in. This led her to become a primary advocate for improving medical care in the infirmaries. As far as Florence personal life, she was courted by several men. However, she did not want to get married. She believed that it would interfere with her nursing profession. During her visits, she trained as a sick nurse for four months in Kaiserswerth, Germany (Bloy, 2010).
She kept on traveling and inspecting hospitals. It was shortly after she received a position in administration. During the Crimean War (1853), British troops lacked nursing and medical care. Florence offered her services to the War. She arrived with thirty-eight nurses to Scutari, Turkey. The soldiers were sick and wounded. Florence found the soldiers in: filth, no medicine, no food, mass infections were common. The hospitals were overcrowded , defective sewers, and no ventilation. The barracks hospitals were meant for 1,700 patients, instead it was packed to 4,000 (Hill & Howlett, 2001).
Soldiers were dying from illnesses such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery. Once Florence took charge, the hospitals were cleaned and laundries were established. She raised funds to purchase supplies. The sanitary commission was also called to flush the sewers. This in turn decreased the death rates. Florence had high expectations of herself and the other nurses. She made additional rounds with her lamp, to check on patients. This is how she earned her title “the Lady with the Lamp”. She began to collect data, which demonstrated that most of the soldiers were killed by poor sanitary living conditions.
Florence advocated for sanitary living conditions as a priority for hospitals. Deaths were reduced in the Army during peacetime (New World Encyclopedia, 2008). Florence career did not stop at this point. She returned to Britain as a heroine. She wrote Notes on Nursing, based on her views on healthcare during the War. Florence was against licensure because she thought it was too much like nurses’ being in a union. In 1860, she founded the Nightingale School in London (“The Florence Nightingale Legacy”). A year later, she opened a midwifery training school.
Florence helped in hospital planning while being bedridden. She was also recognized as a statistician. Many of her reports included statistical studies. One of them was the study of sanitation in Indian rural life. She became the leading figure in the introduction of improved medical care and public health service in India (New World Encyclopedia). Florence received many honors: awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria in 1883; first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit in 1907; Honorary Freedom of the City of London in 1908. Florence died in London on August 13, 1910 (Hill & Howlett, 2001).
Her lasting contribution is in founding the modern nursing profession. The memory of Florence still continues. There are two museums devoted to her. One of them is the Florence Nightingale Museum in London. The Nightingale School of Nursing still is going on. There are also hospitals in Turkey named after her. Overview of the theory Florence was the first nursing theorist. Her spiritual beliefs are self-evident in concept of caring for the whole person-body, mind, and spirit (Ingalls & Tourville, 2003). Nurses may not even consider caring as an intervention. However, it is when a nurse is caring for the whole person.
She believed that external factors surrounding patients affected their biologic, physiologic, and developmental process. In Notes on Nursing, she describes the five essential points: Pure air, Pure water, Efficient drainage, Cleanliness, and Light (Nightingale, 1969, p. 24). If any of these elements are missing, then it is unhealthy conditions. A quiet and warm environment are needed for a patient to recuperate. The proper selection and administration of food is a must. This leads to The Environmental Theory which integrates the restoration of the usual health status of the nurse’s clients into the delivery of health care.
This theory was incorporated in the Crimean War when Florence and the other nurses attended to the needs of the soldiers. She believed in order to assist one’s patients; a nurse must be well educated and practice independently. Florence stated: The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe-how to observe-what symptoms indicate improvement-what the reverse-which are of importance-which are of none-which are the evidence of neglect-and what kind of neglect( p. 104) This described the nursing process, which was part of a nurse’s duty.
Her focus was that a nurse meets the needs of the patients’. Florence war experience led her to believe that good sanitary conditions were a huge factor in promoting good health. She made sure that the hospitals were clean. In which helped diseases from spreading to others. This was proven when the deaths declined among the British troops. Relationship/Utilization within Nursing Today Florence’s theory exists within nursing today since one’s environment does not change that much. The five essential points needed for a healthy environment are basic in today’s society.
However, in the 18th century, these points were not ordinary and essential. It is significant that patients receive pure air. How can anyone breathe in filthy, polluted air and be safe? Pure water should remain toxic-free. It is imperative in allaying illnesses. The thought of efficient drainage is one that someone may not even contemplate. Harboring organisms is a definite risk for infections. Clean environment is absolutely crucial. For example, a nurse needs to wash hands at all times in order to prevent the spreading of organisms. In today’s world, one cannot even imagine a patient soiled in his/her linen for days.
Light is used as a safety point for both patients and nurses. A nurse needs to observe her patient well and clear. A patient’s fall can be easily precipitated in the dark. A patient that is recovering needs bright light not a gloomy atmosphere. The aspect of a quiet environment is a definite soothing one. In which a patient is not to be distressed or excited. Being in a cold room does not sound relaxing for a patient. It is better to be in a warm, comforting room. Food is essential for one to survive. However, the correct selection should be made. It should be of good substance such as vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Principally, to make the sick healthier. This theory has changed the nursing practice in the sense that the environment that surrounds a patient is the chief component. It is necessary because the environment that a patient belongs to contributes to his/her healing. Florence’s theory has also changed the role of the nurse. Nurses used to carry out the physician’s orders only. There was no insight towards their patient’s care. The reputation they held was non-desirable. Nurses were considered at the same level of a “cook”. It was then that a nurse was considered to be reputable.
It demonstrated that Nurses were an enormous part to a patient’s care. They were the ones who observed the sick, bathed, fed, and cared for them. This concept correlates with today’s era. Nurses care for patients physically and emotionally, as a whole entity. Critique of the theory According to Florence’s basic tenets, “Nursing involves both sick nursing and health nursing and includes the environment as well as the patient (holism)” (Weber, 2003). This is just one of several principles that were used throughout the world. Florence’s theory is still valid because she embodied the main ideas that pertain to nursing today.
Those include her values, vision for the future, and her voice. Nursing is caring for others and aiming towards better health. Florence sought to accomplish these goals and she did. One of the strengths in her theory is that it is practical and patient oriented. The five essential points that Florence introduced are elements that can be controlled. It is obvious that it cannot be controlled by the patient. However, a nurse can control a clean, quiet, and warm environment. A nurse cannot control pure air, pure water, or efficient drainage. Yet, these would not be a dilemma in today’s world.
The Environmental Theory also concentrates on maintaining excellent sanitary conditions. There would be countless deaths if this proposal was never implemented. Therefore, hygiene plays a vital role in patient care. A weakness of the theory is that it concentrates heavily on bedside nursing. It is apparent that this is a huge responsibility of the nurse. Nevertheless, nursing is not restricted as it used to be. There are many roles such as: managers, educators, nurse practitioners, and etc. Nurses today work in a multidisciplinary setting. They must collaborate with other clinical staff and patients families as well.
This is different from Florence’s days, where nurses were adapted to being in an individualized role. Implications for nursing practice These concepts are rather prevalent in nursing today since the focus is still on the patient’s well being. Besides, the role of the nurse, there are other healthcare members involved. Nonetheless, this does not diminish the relationship between the nurse and her patient. She/he becomes a collaborator for the patient, making sure that the patient needs have been met. Florence’s Notes on Nursing stresses that a nurse should spend a large amount of time with their patient.
It even includes on how the nurse should read to the sick. Unfortunately, this has become impossible. Nurses would love to spend more time with their patients. This is not realistic because of the nurse-patient ratio and increased responsibilities. Perhaps, a nurse cannot spend a great quantity of time with their patient. Except, the care can be of high-quality. These concepts would affect the way I practice the art and science of nursing. Many of the ideas that Florence published may seem of common sense or of non-importance. A person may not fully understand the conditions that the poor lived in that period.
This is the reason that some may not appreciate what Florence had to offer. She had a great interest in the poor and became an advocate for them. She was a leader in many areas. I have acquired an interest in Community Health, this is a path that Florence took. She also placed grand prominence on treating the patient as a whole. Which I believe that this is forgotten in today’s society. A nurse may go into a room and concentrate on the interventions. Meanwhile, comfort for the patient is ignored. Conclusion Florence passion for nursing was immense. She devoted her entire life.
She had other roles besides the founder of modern nursing: a politician, historian, and statistician. Florence was an advocate for the poor. She became an organizer for hospital planning. All these roles lead Florence to be the famous leader that she was. She had a great impact on the soldiers’ lives she saved. She was awarded many honors for her vocation. Florence bedridden days did not hinder her from being active in the nursing profession. After her death, her memory lives in the museums and monuments dedicated to her. She set high standards for the nursing profession.
Her compassion and dedication to patients ought to be a path that all nurses follow. Florence still serves as a model for nurses today. References Bloy, M. (2010) Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). Retrieved June 30, 2010, from Website:http:///www. victorianweb. org/history/crimea/florrie. html Hill, S & Howlett, H. (2001) Success in Practical/Vocational Nursing (4th ed). (pp. 7-10). Philadelphia: Saunders Ingalls, K & Tourville, C. (2003). The Living Tree of Nursing Theories. Nursing Forum, 38 (3), 21-30, 36. Retrieved July 1, 2010, from Health Module. (Document ID:476634011).
Nightingale, F. (2008). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 30, 2010, from Website:http:///www. newworldencyclopedia. org/entry/Florence_Nightingale Nightingale, F. (1969). Notes on Nursing: what it is and what it is not. (pp. 24, 104). New York: Dover Publications The Florence Nightingale Legacy (n. d). Retrieved June 30, 2010, from Website:http:///www. fnif. org/nightingale. htm Weber, B. (2003). Florence Nightingale’s basic tenets: Would she recognize nursing today? Plastic Surgical Nursing. 23 (2), 44. Retrieved July 1, 2010, from Health Module. (Document ID: 410231551).