It is challenging to imagine how the modern healthcare system would exist without nursing theory and practice. However, many aspects of medicine familiar to society were formed recently in the 20th and 19th centuries. A massive role in this was played by the world-famous Sister of Mercy, Florence Nightingale. She brought a considerable number of reforms to the field of applied medicine and had a strong influence on its formation in its modern state. The purpose of this essay is to analyze her legacy and influence on nursing practice.
The personality of Florence Nightingale is shrouded in many legends, but one fact can be established with accuracy – she left a massive mark on history. She was a prominent figure in medicine which saved countless lives, a writer, and a statistician. Nightingale was so devoted to nursing that she never married, despite many promising proposals (“Florence Nightingale,” 2020). This lack of constraining factors in the form of personal connections allowed her to focus on work entirely. Some of her actions and achievements could not have been achieved otherwise than in the absence of marriage.
For example, it is doubtful that a woman in the 19th century would have taken part in the Crimean War as an assistant in field hospitals. However, this trip, the horrors Nightingale saw, and the experience of working in the hospital led her to formulate many ideas, which were subsequently actively implemented in her activities. First of all, through her behavior, the nurse actively promoted the patient-centered care approach, which included assistance to doctors, constant support, and care for the sick, even at night (Gilbert, 2020). Many patients recovered thanks to her boundless care and attention. This approach, attentive attitude, and observation of patients can be noted in the basics of current nursing practice.
Another important innovation that supported Nightingale was the widespread application of the so-called environmental theory. Although the nurse was unaware of germ theory and the actual mechanisms of infection, she established in practice the need for good sanitation or “health of houses” (Gilbert, 2020). Having perfected the practical side of the spread of diseases in hospitals, she further formed the theoretical basis of her theory. These actions allowed her to save many lives during the Crimean War and influence all medicine in England. Her proposals regarding sanitary standards were combined with exceptional polar area diagrams that demonstrated the causes of the death of soldiers (McDonald, 2020). The clarity of these statistics convinced the Royal Commission of the need for mandatory sanitary measures in medical institutions. In addition, Nightingale independently implemented the established findings by forming and opening several nursing schools and nursing homes, bringing the concept of practical nursing to life.
Thus, it can be noted that Nightingale’s actions in many ways laid the foundations for current nursing practice. First of all, she became one of the first women who were utterly devoted to this cause, which makes her the perfect example of an exemplary nurse. Secondly, it is actively used by the patient-centered approach, which is currently found in many medical institutions. Nightingale strived to provide care and concern for each of her patients, and this attitude formed the basis of the modern relationship between nurses and patients.
In addition, she was a strong leader who was not afraid to promote new alternatives and tried her best to improve people’s lives. Today, leadership qualities are one of the fundamental traits of nurses, as they must be able to lead both their colleagues and patients to a better quality of life. Finally, Nightingale made a massive contribution to controlling the spread of diseases and the adoption of high sanitation. Therefore, Florence Nightingale can rightfully be called the founder of nursing in its modern form because of the many ideas she introduced that have survived to this day.
Florence Nightingale. (2020). History. Web.
Gilbert, H. A. (2020). Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory and its influence on contemporary infection control. Collegian, 27(6), 626-633. Web.
McDonald, L. (2020). Florence Nightingale: The making of a hospital reformer. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 13(2), 25-31. Web.