Remembering Everything Nightingale Fought For

Modern day nursing is going through a renaissance. Being one of the oldest professions in healthcare comes with many challenges, and being adaptable seems to be a constant factor when being connected to this career choice.

Nursing Day is celebrated every year on May 12 in many countries across the world. This day is in honour of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who founded the modern nursing profession in the 1800s.

Nightingale was born into an upper class British family in 1820. She made her first impressive mark in the field of healthcare during the Crimean War, which took place from 1853-1856 in the Black Sea region near Russia and Turkey. She led a team of 38 women who nursed and cared for wounded British soldiers in the conflict. Her team found the medical facilities weren’t caring for the wounded soldiers adequately. Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was neglected and mass infections were common. Thanks to Nightingale’s efforts, she helped reduce the death rate at the site from 42 to 2 percent.

After the war she came back to Great Britain and founded the Nightingale Training School in 1860 to train and educate women to become nurses. She also wrote a book called Notes on Nursing, which served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other new nursing schools.

This book is considered a classic introduction to nursing. It was published at a time when the simple rules of health were only beginning to be known. The book did a lot to improve care in an era when hospitals were riddled with infection and many people viewed nursing as a lower-class occupation.

Not only was Nightingale a nursing pioneer, she was also a social reformer. She wanted to improve healthcare for all sections of British society regardless of their wealth or income, advocated for starvation relief in India, and expanded the role of women in the workforce.

Florence Nightingale did a lot of work expanding the scope of practice for nurses to provide better care for patients. Some of the issues she faced are similar to what nurses’ experience today. Nurses have to lobby their managers, employers and the government to expand their scope of practice to provide superior patient care in our healthcare facilities.

In today’s nursing environments, often nurses are assigned to provide care to ungrateful, violent and verbally abusive individuals. Nurses are scheduled to work long hours, with little or no breaks, and are constantly on their feet for most of their shifts to deal with patients with a variety of ailments.

Canada’s constantly growing aging population has the government searching for new ways to attract more nurses to the field and to provide alternatives for people who need help. Nursing has a proud history but clearly it isn’t attracting students to his healthcare profession since admission into nursing programs in Canada are in a downward spiral. Nursing can be a thankless job, but it can also be one of the most rewarding professions for those whom care and have a passion for giving and positive change.

Let’s remember everything Nightingale fought for and continue to push for the change that is needed to advance the future for nursing across Canada and globally. We will all be healthier for it!

By: Andrew Miller

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