The Significance of Florence Nightingale to the Nursing Profession

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Nursing as a profession entails a holistic care for patients suffering from health conditions. It necessitates caring for a patient’s physical, social, psychological, spiritual and cultural needs to restore his or her health. Thus, nurses are well-trained to assume direct care and leadership roles based on knowledge, interpersonal skills, and experience to ensure patient comfort and recovery. In this regard, nurses strive to provide compassion, garner trust, and build relationships when caring for vulnerable patients. The need to assume certain roles is relevant to the qualities of a nurse to achieve the goal of granting wellness for the patient. Among the major roles of a nurse as a health care professional are the roles of being a caregiver and a manager.

Nurses, as caregivers, have a great impact on the health of individual patients, families, and communities. They possess unique qualities of empathy, compassion, and selflessness that they express while caring for the patient. Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not describes a nurse as a caregiver in terms of providing a healthy environment for sick patients. She states, “It ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet-all at the least expense of vital power to the patient” (Nightingale, 1860, pg. 6). This means that nurses, as caregivers, are therapeutic agents in the healing of a patient. In the movie, “Florence Nightingale – A Short Bio”, Nightingale and her group of nurses arrived at a military hospital during the Crimean war and found the place in an unsanitary condition; invaded with infection and diseases. Nightingale was skillful in providing physical, compassionate care to the wounded soldiers and played a significant role in improving their psychological health. She portrayed what nurses should do as a quality care giver in transforming the hospital into a healthy environment. Additionally, she ensured cleanliness, sanitation, nutritious food, and comfort to the wounded soldiers. Also, she consistently did ward rounds, carrying around a lamp to assess the sick and the wounded during the night. The outcome of her attentive care was a dramatic reduction in the death rate of injured soldiers.

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Similarly, in “The American Nurse”, the role of a nurse as a caregiver is established throughout the movie. Brian McMillion, a military nurse in the Veterans’ hospital in San Diego, works with homeless injured soldiers. He says, “Being homeless doesn’t make them any less (of a person) than a nurse” (The American Nurse, 2014). He cared for the injured soldiers with compassion and gave them physical and emotional support as he paid attention to their stories and sufferings. McMillian understood his patients’ problems. He built relationships with them, acted as a rehabilitator, and helped them to acclimatize their new way of life, ensuring that they recovered from the combat experience. Likewise, Tonia Faust, who runs a hospice program, showed herself as a professional caregiver in her commitment to taking care of the sick prisoners. Faust saw beyond the crimes they committed and made them as comfortable as possible. She provided for their needs and organized a routine assessment on each patient.

Another form of care was shown by Jason Short, a male visiting nurse who works with patients in rural areas. Many of his patients had no access to health care. He drove through flooded streets to get to his patients’ homes in order to care for them. Jason worked with patients in isolated areas characterized by poverty, yet he rendered compassionate care to all his patients with the goal of achieving the wellness of the patient. Thus, the compassionate, selfless, professional care rendered by each nurse in “The American Nurse,” in their individual settings, are typical characteristics of nurses as caregivers.

Nurse Managers go beyond being a caregiver to oversee a team of nurses, serving as a model, and helping them to provide quality care to their patients. They possess strong leadership qualities and have broad clinical knowledge and skills. Nurse Managers guide their team members, offer advice and work in collaboration with other staff to ensure that the patient plan of care is orderly and followed in terms of the patient health priorities. Also, Nurse Managers are compassionate, selfless, understanding, and flexible. Florence Nightingale Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not described a manager as one who is efficient in her nursing duties. She states, “To be in charge is certainly not only to carry out the proper measures yourself but to see that everyone else does so too” (Nightingale, 1970, pg. 24). A nurse manager executes nursing standards in an organized form to fit individual patient needs. Nightingale explained the duty of a manager in terms of the compulsory airing of the patient room and proper ventilation that must be followed even in the absence of a nurse. This focus is like modern-day nursing practices. For instance, in the movie, “The American Nurse”, Tonia Faust was able to share her professional practices with inmate volunteers who cared for their fellow inmates as they were dying. The volunteer nurses routinely washed and fed the patients, cleaned their bedside and showed up to assist patient when needed. Thus, the effective practice of the volunteer nurses was a result of the organized clinical execution of health policies by Tonia Faust. Faust utilized her leadership role to model professional nursing behavior that was utilized by the volunteer nurses. As the coordinator in charge of the prisoner unit, Faust was able to implement ideas that resulted in the efficient management and organized care of the inmate prisoners.

Although a nurse manager has some qualities as a caregiver, both roles are relatively different. Nurse Managers oversee a team of nurses, creating safe and healthy environments that support the work of the health care system while care givers are concerned mainly with the individual patient. The movies, “The American Nurse” and “Florence Nightingale’s – A Short Bio” clearly portray some of the roles assumed by a professional nurse. The need for nurses to adjust to a variety of settings is an integral part of healthcare. Nurses, as quality caregivers, provide for the physical, social, and total well-being of their patients with the goal to achieve optimal healthy conditions. Since nursing is a practice that works in a system, it is important that Nurse Managers ensure that the system is effective by working in collaboration with staff members. In this view, nurse’s implement organized standard practices and exercise leadership roles to execute their responsibilities.

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