Jump to content

Florence Nightingale: A Transformational Leader


Florence Nightingale was a trailblazer in her time with her works serving as the basis for nursing education in the 19th and 20th centuries. An advocate for holistic health, Nightingale's leadership of the time centered on aspects of health care that focused on both physical healing and environmental factors that caused disease. If Florence Nightingale were here today, she would no doubt fight for better health care for all people, work to decrease the nursing shortage, and create safe work environments for nurses.

by TonyaMarie TonyaMarie (New)

How would Nightingale's mission provoke change today?

Florence Nightingale: A Transformational Leader

Florence Nightingale's Mission: Holistic Health

If Florence Nightingale were alive today, there is no doubt that she would be the President of a nursing program at a university or the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at a large health system.  She would also be involved in politics in an enormous capacity to ensure that nurses have healthy work environments, including safe nurse-to-patient ratios. Famous for her Environmental Theory, Nightingale had a passion for service. Her mission can be summed up in two words, holistic health.

The Environmental Theory addresses healing from two perspectives, healing of illness and correcting environmental issues that cause disease. Nightingale believed that one’s environment primarily impacts their ability to heal. The health disparities plaguing the United States would no doubt trouble the heart of Nightingale.

As CNO, Nightingale would spearhead initiatives that would impact the community for which she serves. Nightingale would empower nurses under her umbrella to participate in community activities and offer incentives like promotions and paid time off to encourage such participation. Not only would Nightingale challenge her staff, but she would also be on the frontlines working alongside the nurses, leading by example.

Florence Nightingale: Nurse Advocate

Florence Nightingale was an advocate for the education of nurses in her time, with her works serving as the basis for nursing education in the 19th and 20th centuries. There is no doubt that Florence Nightingale would have a terminal degree in nursing, be it a PhD or a DNP. Therefore, for the remainder of this article, Florence Nightingale will be appropriately titled, Dr. Florence Nightingale.

Dr. Nightingale was well respected in her time and did not back down to authorities simply because she was a nurse. She challenged local and federal authorities to practice humane treatment for soldiers during wartime for the British soldiers. A fighting spirit was part of her DNA. As a CNO, Dr. Nightingale would advocate for the often-silenced voice of nurses working under her. Physicians and non-medical administrators run hospitals and health care systems, yet most of the hospital is staffed with nurses. Dr. Nightingale would not be silenced simply because she holds the title of RN. No way! She would challenge administrators, politicians, and hospital governing boards to see the art behind nursing practice. Hospital administrators who are not nurses only see nursing from the standpoint of bedpans and pill pushers. Dr. Nightingale would bring to light the holistic approach to nursing and the theoretical basis that defines the science for which nurses practice.

Dr. Florence Nightingale: Transformational Leader

Transformational leaders are motivators. They possess the power to walk into a failing hospital system and completely flip it upside down. Dr. Nightingale would undoubtedly be a transformational leader with the ability to positively influence the profession of nursing and make it a more desirable and well-respected career. Creating a more desirable profession would help to close the gap on the never-ending nursing shortage in America. People like to see leaders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches from time to time. Such leaders are not afraid to interact with subordinates. Transformational leaders understand the power of people connection. Dr. Nightingale would no doubt possess the power of people connection. Having the ability to connect with people is a hallmark characteristic of nursing.

Dr. Florence Nightingale: Resolving the Nursing Shortage

Dr. Nightingale would be troubled by the nursing shortage that continues to plague this wonderful profession. Her approach to resolving the nursing shortage would be to examine the root cause of why it exists. There have been several studies published addressing the rate of burnout among health care professionals. Nurses, in particular, are susceptible to burnout. Dr. Nightingale would use her platform as an engine to change the direction of this great profession by being actively involved with self-care initiatives at her health system. The crux of the Environmental Theory is to address all factors associated with illness, both physically and mentally. Dr. Nightingale believed that a healthy environment was essential for healing. Part of the self-care initiatives would include mindfulness and meditation routines using dedicated breakrooms throughout the hospital and outpatient clinic areas catering to mindfulness exercises.

Dr. Florence Nightingale: Provoking Change

In closing, Dr. Nightingale would have worn many hats if she were with us today. But the belly from which she spoke was to serve all humanity and create an environment of healing at work and in the home. Dr. Nightingale would have used her voice to provoke change where needed, in the political realm and the hospital boardroom. Her mission would be to change health care policy so that there is adequate health care for all Americans, safe nurse-to-patient ratios within hospitals, and a reduction of the nursing shortage in hospitals coast to coast.



Theoretical Basis for Nursing (4th edition), Melanie McEwen and Evelyn M Wills (editors)

Tonya M. Frazier, RN MNSc CCTC

1 Article   7 Posts

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Register To Comment