Florence Nightingale

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I am an American nurse turned journalist, and am writing an article for the Washinton Post about Florence Nightingale and her influence on contemporary nursing. In 1999, Unison, called for the ditching of Florence Nightingale as the symbol of nursing and replacing her with someone more in line with modern nursing.

    I am curious for reactions to this. What do you think of Florence Nightingale? Do you agree with Unison? Think Nightingale's outdated?

    Thanks!
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   Good_Queen_Bess
    Florence Nightingale I suppose is rather old-fashioned and nursing has changed a great deal, so I guess I agree with Unison on this one (however, hadn't heard they'd proposed it). Let's face it, a lot of people still see us as people who only wipe bottoms, give out drugs and cups of tea.

    Either that, or we're seen as either rampant nymphomaniacs, angels :angel2: or Hattie-Jacques-matronly-types. Or a combination of all three.
  4. by   llg
    I think the people who "don't support Florence" know very little about her. The more I have learned about her and her work, the more I have come to respect her.

    The problem is: many people assume she is no longer relevant without really knowing all the facts. Perhaps students should spend a little more time learning about her and some of the other great nursing leaders of the past and the present. In many disciplines, studying the work of those who built the knowledge is a central part of becoming an expert in the discipline. By not honoring our past (and current) nursing scholars, we downplay the importance of their work -- resulting in a downplaying of the importance of nursing work and accomplishments in general.

    llg
  5. by   Stargazer
    Exactly, llg. I have enormous respect for her as an epidemiologist and researcher, but I think a lot of people don't know about that part of her work.

    http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/nitegale.htm
  6. by   Good_Queen_Bess
    Don't get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for Flo' and her work and much of it is as relevant then as it is today. She was a brave and amazing woman. But most non-nurses see her as someone who went round the ward, tucking people in bed at night. However, who else would we use as our symbol?

    To patients, the nurses they encounter when in need are their symbols, good and bad.
  7. by   llg
    I see your point GoodQueenBess, but they way I look at it ... if the public doesn't have a true picture of Ms. Nightengale and/or her accomplishments, then we should do a better job of educating them. It's just another example of how we nurses have not done a good job of marketing our profession. The same can be said about the accomplishments of most of our profession's leaders.'

    llg (who, perhaps, should point out that she is in the US, not the UK -- just to be open and honest here)
  8. by   nurseandmom
    llg- great information in the link you provided. I have even more respect for Florence Nightengale now! However, I see that she must be the one to blame for that awful statistics class!!!
  9. by   karenG
    yep, florrie almost invented stats!!!! she did a good job considering the constraits of her time. and would we be here without her??

    Karen
  10. by   llg
    Actually, nurseandmom, it wasn't me who provided the web link ... it was Stargazer. Thanks, Stargazer!

    llg
  11. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Originally posted by llg
    I think the people who "don't support Florence" know very little about her. The more I have learned about her and her work, the more I have come to respect her.

    The problem is: many people assume she is no longer relevant without really knowing all the facts. Perhaps students should spend a little more time learning about her and some of the other great nursing leaders of the past and the present. In many disciplines, studying the work of those who built the knowledge is a central part of becoming an expert in the discipline. By not honoring our past (and current) nursing scholars, we downplay the importance of their work -- resulting in a downplaying of the importance of nursing work and accomplishments in general.

    llg
    I agree, llg!

    I have a copy of Florence's "Notes on Nursing."
    It is full of wisdom and simple answers to the problems that still plague nursing today. I was amazed.

    Of course, there is some content that is no longer valid.

    But, the majority of it is timeless.

    She even puts down adnimistrators for all but preventing nurses from nursing! lol!

    I think it's time to take another look at Florence, people!
  12. by   roxannekkb
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think the main problem with Florence Nightingale is that she is better known for the "myth" of who she was, rather than the real woman. The sweet lady with the lamp, docile and selfless--no, that was not Nightingale. She was a powerful woman with a brilliant mind, and unfortunately, most of her work has gone unnoticed. She only spent about 3 years of her life working as a nurse, and the bulk of it as a reformer and statistician. Nursing was only part of her long line of accomplishments.

    Obviously, of course, she was a woman of her time, and some of her thinking is just not going to fit contemporary life. But she was lightyears ahead of her time.

    I've spent the last 2 weeks talking with her biographers and with nurse historians, and in my opinion, Unison did act a little too hasty.
  13. by   Stargazer
    Roxanne, who or what is Unison? I'm afraid I haven't heard of it.
  14. by   sanakruz
    I agree she was a remarkable woman-

    But lets find somebody new. Reckon we need a good spin Dr.(spin nurse?) I dont know what Unison is either......

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