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Florence Nightingale

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Florence Nightingale was a legend in her lifetime and was one of the greatest pioneer's in nursing. She lived ninety years and accomplished many great things for the field of nursing. Her descriptions of nursing, health, environment, and humankind are remarkable and still true to this day. Nightingale reformed nursing and changed the way nursing was viewed. Some of the issues during Nightingale's time, the 1800's, we still face today. Nightingale not only impacted nursing in the 1800's, but also still has an effect on nursing today. We do not need a new role model and icon for nursing because Nightingale changed the nursing profession for the better and that should never be forgotten.

Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy; thereby being named after the city where she was born. Her family was from England, and lived during the Victorian era. While touring Europe on their two-year long honeymoon, Nightingale was born. Her parents William Edward Nightingale and Frances Smith Nightingale were a very wealthy couple. Nightingale had a sister named Parthenope who was about a year older (Davis, 1999).

William Nightingale was well educated, at Cambridge University in England and he taught his daughters at home. William Nightingale taught his daughters to speak Italian, Latin, and, Greek. He also taught them history, philosophy, and math; math was one of Florence's favorite subjects to study (Audian, 1999). Florence's father gave her the education equivalent to an upper class boy during her era. Parthenope rejected her education and joined her mother in domestic activities, whereas Florence loved learning. William Nightingale was Florence's main companion; Florence found the life of a Victorian lady boring and depressing (Holliday & Parker, 1997).

At about the age of sixteen Nightingale received what she called "her calling." She believed she heard the voice of God calling her to do his work, but she had no idea what this work would be (Fotos, 1997). Nightingale developed an interest in visiting the homes of the sick. She also began to investigate hospitals and nursing. At first, her parents refused to let her become a nurse because they said it was unsuitable for a woman of her education, but they eventually ceded. Nightingale went to Kiaserswerth and sustained a three-month training program. She later went on to be a nurse in the Crimean War where she began her reformation of the nursing profession (Holliday and Parker, 1997).

Selanders (1998) explains how Nightingale describes nursing, environment, humankind, and health. Selanders begins with nursing; giving an explanation why nursing is a calling, an art, a science, requires education, and achieved in the course of environmental alteration. When stating that nursing is a calling, Nightingale emphasized nursing should be practiced for the love of the profession and not for the money. Nursing was reviewed as an art and a science. The science of nursing refers to practicing nursing with current methods, knowledge, and education. The art of nursing refers to being practiced with empathy. Nightingale explained why nursing needs environmental alteration. Nurses must receive abstract and clinical practice when receiving education to become a nurse so that a patient can be put within the best environment and care possible (Selanders).

Next, Nightingale clarifies why environment is so important. Her definition of environment is " anything that, through manipulation, assists in putting the individual in the best possible condition for nature of act" (Selanders, 1998, p.253). In other words, poor conditions may lead to poor health. The place where a person was being taken care of had a tremendous effect on whether or not they would get better. Giving a patient a quiet room to reside in, a clean bed to sleep in, clean clothes, and adequate nutrition can make a big difference in their health status. Nightingale realized in the Crimean war that patients needed good nutrition, clean water, psychological support, care, clean beds, and clean clothes.

Third, person or humankind is discussed. Person or humankind is described as the individual receiving care (Selanders, 1998). Nurses also dealt with the well being of a family, because the focus on individuals and families improved health. Talking to the family of the patient helps the patient's family to deal with psychological needs; making it easier for them to care for their ill family member. Nightingale believed individuals had biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs and the nurse must help care for those needs to insure wellness of an individual (Selanders).

Finally, Nightingale viewed health as "not only to be well, but to be able to use well every power we have" (Selanders, 1998, p.255). She believed one should strive to be in the best possible health condition. Being healthy to her did not mean being disease free; it meant striving to be in the best feasible healthy state. Health is also to make a person as comfortable as possible when they are ill or have a disease. For example, if a patient is ill and bed ridden talk to them, ask them if they seen anything, inform them of what you are doing or giving them to help them, and make sure they are satisfied.

One main issue of concern during Nightingale's era was communication with a patient or the nurse-patient relationship. Communication with the sick is important because you



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