Nursing Metaphors

Topics: Nursing, Florence Nightingale, Nurse Pages: 4 (1303 words) Published: July 28, 2013
English 100

Metaphor in Area Other Than Literature Essay

The purpose of metaphor is to conceptualize one thing in terms of another. Metaphorical concepts shape and reflect our perceptions, actions, and relations to others (Lakoff and Johnson 1). In the field of nursing, many metaphors have emerged which have greatly impacted the practice of nursing. These metaphors include the “nursing as military” metaphor, which typified nursing during the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, and the “nursing as advocacy” metaphor which became the dominant conception of nursing after the tumultuous social struggles of the 1960's. Most metaphors associated with the nursing profession are referred to as moral metaphors because they involve issues that require ethical reasoning about what possible actions nurses ought to take in various healthcare situations (Milton 318). As such, nursing metaphors have a profound impact on nursing ethics, including stated rules and principles as well as more implicit guidelines to the way nurses think and act. Modern nursing is widely considered to have begun with the work of Florence Nightingale, superintendent of nurses in British military hospitals during the Crimean War in the 1850's. Nightingale's theories were hugely influential, especially her concerns for sanitation and strict military discipline (BBC History). In Sir Richard Quain's “Dictionary of Medicine” (1894), Nightingale is quoted as saying: “To obey is to understand orders, and to understand orders is really to obey” (Winslow 34). Her dedication to the “nursing as military” metaphor is best summed up in the Nightingale Pledge, a modified version of the Hippocratic Oath, created by nursing school leaders in 1893 in Detroit that professional nurses of the day were sworn to: “With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work” (NursingWorld.Org). In the military metaphor, as obedience, loyalty and discipline are the most important qualities a soldier...


Cited: BBC History – Historic Figures. BBC, 2013. Web. 18 January 2013.
Bosek, Marcia Sue DeWolf and Teresa Savage. The Ethical Component of Nursing Educatioin: Integrating Ethics Into Clinical Experience. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007. Print.
Milton, Constance. “Common Metaphors in Nursing Ethics.” Nursing Science Quarterly 26 October 2009: 318-322. Print.
NursingWorld.Org. American Nurses Association, 2013. Web. 18 January 2013.
Winslow, Gerald. “From Loyalty to Advocacy: A New Metaphor for Nursing.” The Hastings Center Report June 1984: 32-40. Print.
Wurzbach, Mary Ellen. “The Moral Metaphors of Nursing.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 1999, 30(1): 94-99. Print.
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