Environmental Hygiene

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Florence Nightingale’s Philosophy of Nursing

Susan Nixon RN

Saint Joseph’s College

Abstract

This paper will walk you through Florence Nightingale’s early years of wealth, education, and travel and how it molded her to become the “Lady with the Lamp.” I will outline Nightingales philosophy of nursing and how it relates to today’s nursing structure and philosophies. I will use the meta-paradigm of nursing to explore Nightingales philosophy and how it has helped mold the nurses of today. I will highlight the changes in nursing over the years and the way they have stayed the same. I will expand on how the shift of nursing from direct physical care to coordination and supervision of care has become the new nursing role. (Norrish & Rundall, 2001). I will conclude how the nursing meta-paradigm continues to include nursing, environment, person, and health and in what ways it is evident in today’s nursing practice.

Florence Nightingale’s Philosophy of Nursing

In this paper I will explain the different aspects of Florence Nightingales philosophy of nursing. I will briefly touch on how she was brought up and what she was exposed to that helped form her desire to help the sick and the weak. I will discuss how the meta-paradigm of nursing has changed over the years, and in what ways they have stayed the same. Florence Nightingale was born to William and Frances Nightingale while on their extended honeymoon. Nightingales parents named her after the city she was born in, Florence, Italy. Nightingale grew up in a wealthy English household. She was able to speak and write in many different languages at an early age. Her father spent many hours educating her on all the major subjects. Nightingale grew to love the great philosophers and also kept up on the politics and social happenings of her day. Nightingale traveled the world with her parents and saw what the effects of poverty and sickness had on the different countries and the lack of cleanliness and education to care for the sick. At the age of 16, Nightingale experienced one of several “calls from God”, and that she viewed her particular calling as reducing human suffering. Nursing seemed the suitable route to serve both God and humankind (Selanders, 2012). During her early years she cared for the sick on her families estate and much to her parents dismay chose to seek a career in nursing. It was considered inappropriate for a wealthy woman to be a nurse in the early 1800’s, but her parents seeing her passion for nursing allowed her to attend a nursing program at a local hospital. Nightingale continued to travel the world with her family and work part time as a nurse. As the years past Nightingale received additional training and at the age of thirty-four Florence was the superintendent at a small hospital that was a shelter for homeless women and that cared for young women. A short time later came the outbreak of Cholera and the start of the Crimean War. Nightingale was appointed the Superintendent of Nursing Staff by the British government in response to the need of for more “sisters” to care for the troops. During the Crimean War she treated the wounded soldiers in the hospital and would check on them at night, carrying a lamp with her. That is why Florence Nightingale was known as the Lady with the Lamp. During this troubling time Florence Nightingale established her nursing philosophy. Florence Nightingale’s Nursing Philosophy revolves around Nursing, Human beings, Health, and the Environment. Nursing is concerned with human experiences and responses to birth, health, illness, and death within the context of individuals, families, groups, and communities (Selanders, 2007). Nightingale believed that Nursing is different from medicine, and that anyone can give nursing care to the sick, and that no special training was needed. What Nightingale held highly was a person’s action, and characteristics. Nightingale...
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