Over the last two centuries, nursing has been constantly redesigned and developed into what we call now as modern nursing. It has been enhanced every period of time through education and scientific breakthroughs. It has evolved into a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, enhanced both by theory and constant research. In this essay, the history and development of nursing over the last two hundred years shall be addressed, followed by a discussion on the factors that led to the development of nursing into a profession governed by legislation and bound by ethics and standards of practice, with inclusions on the criteria of a profession and how they relate to nursing.
As an activity that provides help to the ill, to children, and to babies, nursing has existed since the earliest times. From the middle of the 18th century to the 19th century, social reforms changed the roles of nurses and of women in general. It was during this that nursing as we know now began based on the beliefs of Florence Nightingale. Nursing was provided by women who were expected to carry out the housework of the hospital, wash the laundry, and do all the cleaning for very little reward (Dempsey, French, Hillege and Wilson, 2009, p. 167). The era of reform in nursing is marked by the work of the British nurse, Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. Nightingale’s efforts made nursing a respectable vocation once again (Daniels, 2004, p. 9). However, Nightingale’s reform activities did not stop at responsibility. Besides crusading for cleanliness and comfort in hospitals, Nightingale also worked toward educating the public regarding health measures. She believed in prevention and in nursing the whole person (White, 2005). Nightingale viewed health as significant for nursing practice (Beck, 2006, p. 481). It was also because of the Nightingale tradition that Australian nursing was established (Condon, 2000, p. 110). Among her many other accomplishments was the establishment of the Nightingale School of Nurses at St. Thomas Hospital, London in 1960. This school is credited with providing the first planned educational program for nurses (White 2005). In the 19th century, nursing revolutionized to a proficient discipline and roles of nurses in public health care increased (Hallet, 2010, p. 11). It was Lucy Osburn who was a trainee of the nightingale school of nursing that marked the start of nursing in Australia (Dempsey et al, 2009, p. 168). The Australiasian Trained Nurses Association was then founded in New South Wales in 1899 (Crisp and Taylor, 2009, p. 5).
A number of factors including key persons, societal needs, and even the crisis of war contributed to the development of nursing education (Schwirian 1998, p. 116). By the end of World War I there was rapid expansion in the establishment of hospitals, with nursing schools dependent on them for support. Training was based on apprenticeship, rather than on educational principles in which nurses learned from physicians and practical experience through caring for the ill populace in the hospital (Dempsey et al, 2009, p. 168). After hospitals existed, there was no formal training for nurses in giving care since there were no standard programs to educate nurses until the late 1800’s where nursing care was conducted by relatives and self-conducted persons (Chitty, 2005, p. 33). When nursing went through industrial and social reform, schools of nursing were then embellished in Universities and Colleges (Dempsey et al, 2009, p. 169). It was Florence Nightingale who laid the foundation of modern nursing that worked hard to enhance the people’s awareness since educated nurses were needed thus promoting the future of nursing education (White, 2005).
From its early days to the present, nursing has undergone change in every era. Rapid strides have been made in nursing education and programs in a wide variety of hospital and community nursing services. Another factor that led to the...
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