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Nursing Evolution Since Florence Nightingale Essay

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Updated: May 5th, 2021

Nursing constitutes one of the most crucial elements of the healthcare industry. There were several historical figures in this sphere whose contributions to nursing theory were so significant that their legacy continues to be included in the modern studies. One of such contributors was Florence Nightingale. She was an innovator of her time, and some of her ideas inspired further generations of nurses to invent new beneficial approaches to their work. The paper suggests an overview of Nightingale’s major contributions and the analysis of how nursing had evolved since the time when this great nurse and innovator worked. It is argued that although many changes have occurred in nursing over the past century, Nightingale’s impact on the sphere of healthcare is highly significant.

Nursing practice, as it is known nowadays, would not have become what it is without Nightingale’s achievements. Nightingale is considered to be the developer of the US nursing practice. She started the introduction of changes to nursing during the Crimean War of 1853. By introducing nursing reforms, the theorist managed to decrease the mortality rate among soldiers by nearly 40% (“Florence Nightingale,” 2017). Much has changed in the sphere of nursing since that time, but Nightingale’s methods that introduced better nutrition and sanitation are still valued by healthcare practitioners all over the world (“How has nursing changed,” 2018).

Many crucial spheres have been developed since Nightingale’s time. For instance, nurses are now better equipped and can work in challenging environments and with complicated health issues (“Nursing past, present, and future,” n.d.). Modern nurses work with patients staying in prisons and palliative care units, and they find relevant approaches to each patient because they base their work on the principle of caring.

Probably the most radically changed issue in regard to nursing is the education. The initial step in the nursing career is receiving a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) (“Nursing past, present, and future,” n.d.). Specialists who have obtained a BSN are proficient in performing diagnostic and treatment procedures. Also, they know how to manage a variety of chronic issues within the system of healthcare. Another learning opportunity for modern nurses is the RN (registered nurse) to BSN program (“Nursing past, present, and future,” n.d.). With its help, nurses enrich their knowledge of evidence-based practice, health assessment, and community health. In the times of Nightingale, there were rather limited educational options for nurses.

Another crucial step forward in the nursing career is that care is not concentrated on hospital patients any longer. A variety of institutions where nurses can help individuals have emerged, such as rehabilitation centers, private home nursing, and nursing homes.

These options have enabled many patients to live in familiar surroundings while simultaneously receive professional care and support (Grabowski et al., 2014). When someone has a lengthy recovery, they no longer need to stay at a hospital but go home where a specially trained nurse takes care of them. This direction of nursing profession’s development s associated with some of Nightingale’s principles (“Florence Nightingale,” 2017). She also advocated the need to resolve the problem of overcrowded hospitals and promoted additional attention to elderly patients.

Finally, it is necessary to pay attention to the issues that were introduced by Nightingale and had evolved in the course of time. Firstly, modern medicine would not have reached its peak of development without taking into consideration the five essential elements “to optimal healing” promoted by this well-known nursing practitioner: pure water, light, cleanliness, pure air, and efficient drainage (Lee, Clark, & Thompson, 2013).

Over decades, approaches to these components have changed, but they are all still regarded as crucial, and nurses pay sufficient attention to them. Secondly, the environmental theory introduced by Nightingale has evolved in the course of time, and modern nurses do their best to investigate the role of nursing environments and provide their patients with the most relevant care (Zborowsky, 2014).

The development of education has allowed nurses to engage in research work and improve their knowledge. There is a variety of opportunities for healthcare practitioners to come up with new approaches to patient care, which enables constant enhancement of the quality of nurses’ services. Thus, the evolution is based on Nightingale’s principles of care that still bear significance in the field of nursing.

The nursing profession had changed greatly over the past century. New technologies and approaches have appeared, which enables specialists to provide patients with the most qualified care. However, these improvements would not have become possible without the revolutionary suggestions made by Florence Nightingale, who is justly considered a pioneer of nursing. Nightingale’ idea of optimal healing and the emphasis on adherence to sanitary norms allowed saving millions of lives and continues to be relevant. The most significant changes that occurred in the sphere of nursing are associated with educational and research opportunities. Modern nursing practitioners have all the necessary means at their disposal that enable them to satisfy their patients’ needs and provide them with the best care.


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Grabowski, D. C., O’Malley, A. J., Afendulis, C. C., Caudry, D. J., Elliot, A., & Zimmerman, S. (2014). Culture change and nursing home quality of care. The Gerontologist, 54(S1), S35-S45.

How has nursing changed over the last decade? (2018). Web.

Lee, G., Clark, A. M., & Thompson, D. R. (2013). Florence Nightingale ─ Never more relevant than today. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(2), 245-246.

Nursing past, present, and future. (n.d.). Web.

Zborowsky, T. (2014). The legacy of Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory: Nursing research focusing on the impact of healthcare environments. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 7(4), 19-34.

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