Nursing can be defined in many differing ways. Peoples’ perceptions of a nurse is one that, the Nurse works within a hospital ward, helping those who are physically ill become well. However, The International Council of Nursing (2007) defines nursing as a self governing unit working together to care for people of all ages, family groups and communities. Nursing encompasses the promotion of health and well being, the prevention of illness, and the care of those who are ill, disabled or dying (cited by Dougherty L. and Lister (eds) 2008).
The fundamental basis to nursing is caring, which is defined as “to feel interested or concerned by” (Hawkins J. et. al. (2003)). Within the nursing profession caring, or care is a much more detailed process, it incorporates knowing, the way in which we understand and perceive the world, and knowledge, referring to what is taken to be accurate and evidence based (Chinn p. and Kramer M. 1999).
The article will explore how we came from the caring of Florence Nightingale, to the science of nursing we have today.
Florence Nightingale – the mother of nursing.
Florence Nightingale was born to wealthy British parents, on May 12th 1820. Nightingale grew up in Derbyshire, England.
Nightingale was like any other Victorian Lady in the fact that she was well educated in the usual literature, music, drawing, and domestic arts, but Nightingale also showed a keen interest in mathematics, something that only a man would need in this era. After many disagreements her father agreed to teach her mathematics, Nightingale excelled in the subject. Victorian ladies were expected to marry, have children, and devote their lives to their family. However Nightingale felt differently, she felt she had a calling to serve, and so refused to marry. Nursing was the calling for Nightingale, she had cared for some friends and family at home, but when she attempted to work as a nurse she was refused by her family repeatedly. Victorian hospitals were often dark, dingy places, and nurses were known to be untrained, coarse and ignorant women, renowned for their promiscuity, and drunken behaviour.
At the age of 33 Nightingale finally was able to acquire some minimal training, and so her career finally began. In 1854 the Crimean war began, Nightingale, recruited a team of 10 nurses, and took them to Turkey to assist in the soldiers care. When she arrived she was astonished by what she found, soldiers lay on bare floors with vermin running around them, and there was no clean water for them, Cholera and Typhus were rife. With her mathematical background, Nightingale noted that soldiers were 7 times more likely to die in a field hospital, than on the battle field (O’Connor J. and Robertson E. (online)). Nightingale started to collect data and organise ways of keeping records. From keeping these records Nightingale was able to analyse data, and use this to improve sanitary conditions in both city and military hospitals. Results showed a decline in the number of deaths due to disease. Nightingales methods changed the way of nursing for the future, being able to prove, with evidence that hygiene and nutrition were fundamental in nursing practice.
Sadly, Nightingale herself was becoming ill, and became confined to her bed. Although almost an invalid Nightingale continued to have a major influence on the standards of nursing care and training (Ford M. 1997 (online)). Nightingale worked tirelessly from her bed advising British, American, and Canadian armies on their medical care. She also published over 200 books, reports, and pamphlets, including the first ever text book specifically for nurses.
In 1860 The Nightingale Training School was opened, based at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, the school opened with just 10 students. Nightingale set down two principles for nurse training:- 1.A nurse should train in a hospital
2.A nurse in training should live in a home fit to form a...