The End of Following F. Nightingale's Steps...For Now
by, 07-21-2010 at 02:57 AM (1517 Views)
As I leave Istanbul and reflect over these past few days of following in Florence Nightingale's footsteps, several thoughts are shirling through my head. Not the least of these is the significant extent to which Miss Nightingale's early life growing up in a well-to-do family with a father who spent a great deal of time directing and participating in her education, had on her throughout her life. It was certainly unusual in the early to mid 1800's for a young woman to possess the education that Florence Nightingale had acquired by the time most of her female contemporaries were marrying and starting families.
And, while it may have been her family's wealth and social standing that opened doors initially, that would have been worthless without Miss Nightingale's vision, ability to execute, her passion, persistence, and incredible ability to communicate. (For example, she wrote over 13,000 letters during her lifetime - can you imagine what Miss Nightingale what have accomplished with email?!)
Miss Nightingale excelled in multiple roles during her lifetime - most of which have left a lasting impact on our nursing profession and are as relevant today as the. She was:
1. An archtect/designer - Her design of St. Thomas Hospital with special attention to sanitation, light, ventilation, and patient safety became a model used all over the world.
2. A change agent - She changed the foundation for the education and practice of nursing, and established an educational curriculum based in both science and caring. She also was instrumental in changing the role of women in society, blazing a path of choice which opened working roles to women during a time when educated women generally did not work outside the home. She chose to devote her life to improving the health of British soldiers and their families, as well as people with no economic means - something that was unheard of at the time. When you think of the important work roles women hold today in government, business, education, and healthcare, a collective "thank you" is deserved.
3. A researcher - Miss Nightingale kept detailed records related to the patients in her care, and her charts and graphs were instrumental in changing how these patients received care. Her "evidence based practice" resulted in approaches to care which literally saved thousands of lives. She used data to prove her points, made use of it often, and communicated it widely. It had the effect of changing even the most stubborn minds of the time - something that remains true today!
4. A reformer - Florence Nightingale not only changed the foundation of how nurses were educated, and though that is often how she is remembered, she also changed sanitation practices in cities and their principal organizations (such as hospitals and workhouses). She knew how to use the media and people in powerful positions, and took advantage of their interest in the health of British soldiers in the Crimea, and for years afterwords, to advance reforms for all. She helped expose conditions in the workhouses (poorhouses) and brought nursing care to the residents of those places while at the same time promoting opportunities for the residents to find employment and regain their dignity. This seems particularly poignant at this particular time in our own economic reality.
5. A value holder - Miss Nightingale insisted that all patients be admitted and cared for regardless of race, gender, religion or any other distinguishing characteristic. This was a huge departure from practices of the past, and though she met with a great deal of resistance, her vaue around care regardless of circumstances remains one of the most important and closely held values of nursing today.
I could go on with this list, but I suspect you get my gist. And, while I had enormous respect for Florence Nightingale before I began this journey, it has only grown as I have learned more about her life and lasting impact on others. It has been an amazing privilege to "follow in Florence Nightingale's Footsteps".