If you are in nursing, whether as an active nurse or as a nurse educator, you surely know the history of Florence Nightingale, the mother of the modern nursing profession. Through her actions as she pursued her own career in nursing, Nightingale showed the value in advocating for nurses and patients.
Nightingale was the daughter of an affluent British couple. Over her parents’ objections, she pursued a deeper calling than marrying a wealthy gentleman. Her religious upbringing and her own experiences convinced her that she was destined to become a nurse.
Through a lifetime of work and study, Nightingale developed many philosophies about nursing. She was a natural observer and prolific writer.
Nightingale’s philosophy about nursing education:
- Nursing has specialized educational requirements with theoretical and clinical components
- Nurses should be educated by nurses who specialize in education
- Nurses should have a grounding in basic sciences
- Nursing education should be controlled by the school, not the hospital
- Students should be regularly evaluated and apprised of this evaluation during the course of the education
Other nursing advocacy from Nightingale:
Humane treatment of all patients: Nightingale refused to go along with the idea that only patients of a certain religion could be treated. She admitted all patients, regardless of their faith, and made sure they received the healthcare treatment they needed.
Development of care standards for patients: Nightingale argued that every patient deserved attention and care. She had little patience for the insistence that the chronically and mentally ill should not be tended to in hospital. She insisted that all patients be kept comfortable, and receive food and medicine. Nightingale brought stringent sanitation standards to healthcare facilities, which benefited all patients by giving them access to light and fresh air, clean linens, and overall hygienic conditions.
Nightingale School at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London: Nightingale established this school, elevating the status of nurses from servants to true professionals by virtue of education. The school expanded the roles of nursing out of hospital, sending trained nurses afield, and gave women a path to a career outside of the home.
Lady of the Lamp: Dedicated as she was, this nursing pioneer worked tirelessly to ensure her patients received care around the clock. Due to her habit of making rounds of the ward at night carrying a candle to light her way, she earned this nickname. The Lamp of Learning ceremony nurses experience at graduation is an everlasting symbol of Nightingale’s commitment to her career and her patients.
We are celebrating pioneers in nursing and nursing education this March, as part of National Women’s History Month.