Good Night, Florence - page 2

Good Night, Florence By Roxanne Nelson Special to The Washington Post In an unprecedented and surprising move, one of the world's great icons has been summarily knocked from her pedestal. ... Read More

  1. by   -jt
    Very interesting article. Thanks for the info. Noticed that at least 2 letters from nurses appeared in that paper in response to it:

    <<A statement in the story illustrates one of the major problems for nurses today: the misconceptions about what "nursing" really is. After paragraphs about all that Florence Nightingale accomplished over her many years, Nelson writes that "Nightingale spent less than three of her 90 years working as a nurse." This is followed by sentence after sentence of how she spent those 50 years accomplishing a number of public health changes, updating hospitals and overseeing a school of nursing.

    I have a news flash: All of those things are nursing!

    If Nelson thinks Nightingale was not "nursing" because she was not bathing patients and emptying bedpans, then what chance do we have that the general population will understand the immense scope of what nursing is?
    Kay Freeman Sauers, RN, BSN, MS
    Dayton >>


    <<Tuesday, May 6, 2003

    Say It Ain't Flo

    Roxanne Nelson's description in "Good Night, Florence" [April 29] of the most recent British reaction to Florence Nightingale as a role model for modern nursing was an attention-getter. However, we are concerned that her comments have implications for American nursing as well.

    The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) values our strong historical roots and appreciates the significant contributions from our early nursing leaders. One of AACN's leading strategic initiatives is to improve workplace environments so that patient outcomes and professional nursing practice are optimized.

    More than ever with the severe nursing shortage we are facing today, creating a culture that is healthy and humane for both patients and nurses is imperative. In this, Florence was a leader who was ahead of her time. Her great accomplishments lit the way for those of us who follow in her footsteps and who are working together to alleviate the challenges in today's health care system.
    Karen S. Kesten RN, MSN, CCRN
    Greater Washington Area Chapter

    Janie Heath RN, MS, CCRN, ANP, ACNP
    Board of Directors

    American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
  2. by   rncountry
    If you look not only a FN, but other early nurses in the US as well as other countries, really read about them, you will find that the majority if not all, stepped out of the norm for women and what society expected from women. The truth is that if we as nurses get back to the early roots of what the early nurses believed could be accomplished by sheer will and a deep belief that women could and should do things that lead their societies to better and more equatable situations, then today's nurses would be leading charges on many different levels and more publicly than we do now. They spoke up and were willing to put everything on the line for what they believed in. Can we do less?
    One of the gals that I work with did her Master's thesis on nursing history. This week she did a terrific board about many of the early nurses that really puts into perspective what nursing has accomplished not only for the profession, but for society as a whole.
    I personally take Lavinia Dock as a terrific role model. She was one fiesty lady! Not to mention very bright.
    And you know what? Even if FN was bipolor who cares? Does that negate the accomplishments she had? To make a statement that she was bipolor does little more than play into the stereotypes of mental illness. It was not FN that wrapped a mussle around nurses mouths, that was done later and in many ways we have done it to ourselves. I would say take a look back and really SEE what the early nurses accomplished and use it as a role model for what nursing how nursing could and should lead.
  3. by   rncountry
    By the way Roxanne, nicely written article!
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Florence was a leader and innovator of her time. Like Joe Mc Donalds, I believe she suffered from post traumatic stress from her experiences in the war.
    My Nurses Association, the California Nurses Association will celebrate our 100 year annaversary this September. The Associations first political action was to lobby for and achieve a State Board of Nursing with licensure for "trained" nurses. Previous to that ANYONE could represent themself as a nurse.

    Second big political action of the CNA was to push for the vote for women.

    As nurses it is important to learn our history. Links below to make it a little easier for those who have some time now. I included Joe Mc Donald although his site has been linked before. His mother was a nurse and ran for city council. His wife and brother are nurses. He credits nurses for saving his life. I don't know the story.
    Nightingale Training School for Nurses
    Florence Nightingale's greatest achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for

    In 1860, with the public subscriptions of the Nightingale Fund, she established the Nightingale Training
    School for nurses at St Thomas' Hospital. Mrs Sarah Wardroper, Matron at St Thomas', became the head of
    the new school. The probationer nurses received a year's training which included some lectures but was mainly
    practical ward work under the supervision of the ward sister. Miss Nightingale, as she was always called by the
    nurses, scrutinised the probationers' ward diaries and reports.

    From 1872 Miss Nightingale devoted closer attention to the organisation of the School and almost annually for
    the next thirty years she wrote an open letter to the nurses and probationers giving advice and encouragement.
    On completion of training Miss Nightingale gave the nurses books and invited them to tea. Once trained the
    nurses were sent to staff hospitals in Britain and abroad and to establish nurse training schools on the
    'Nightingale Model.'

    In 1860 Florence Nightingale's best known work, Notes on Nursing, was published. It laid down the principles
    of nursing: careful observation and sensitivity to the patient's needs. Notes on Nursing has been translated
    into eleven foreign languages and is still in print today.

    Public Health
    Florence Nightingale's writings on hospital planning and organisation had a profound effect in England and
    across the world. Miss Nightingale was the principal advocate of the 'pavilion' plan for hospitals in Britain.

    Like her friend, the public health reformer Edwin Chadwick, Florence Nightingale believed that infection
    arose spontaneously in dirty and poorly ventilated places. This mistaken belief nevertheless led to
    improvements in hygiene and healthier living and working environments.

    Florence Nightingale also advised and supported William Rathbone in the development of district nursing in
    Liverpool and many Nightingale trained nurses became pioneers in this field.
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on May 11, '03
  5. by   roxannekkb
    Thanks everyone, for the compliments. Unfortunately, Kay Freeman Sauers, RN, BSN, MS, completely missed my point when she commented that I thought that "Nightingale was not "nursing" because she was not bathing patients and emptying bedpans, then what chance do we have that the general population will understand the immense scope of what nursing is?"

    The general impression of FN is that she spent her entire life doing patient care and working at what most perceive as a nurse's work. Some people even think that FN was the "founder" of nursing. I pointed out that very little of her life was, in fact, spent doing physical nursing work. And even then, much of her time was spent in supervisory work, especially in the Crimea, where she did battle with the army hierarchy to allow her nurses to work, to get supplies for the men, and so on. In total, she spent very little time doing hands on patient care.

    It wasn't a criticism of FN, just a fact. And while nursing has greatly expanded, like it or not, the fact remains is that most nurses do work in hospitals and long term care facilities and do patient care. Most are not revamping public health systems of entire nations, remodeling and overhauling hospital systems, or are pioneers in statistics--like FN. And while those jobs can be performed by a nurse, people trained in other disciplines can do them as well. Whereas, taking care of patients is very specific to nursing.

    These are also great accomplishments, and ones in which Nightingale is rarely remembered for--particularly statistics. How many nurses are even aware that FN was a brilliant mathematician?

    Anyway, I was actually a little amused by Sauer's letter, because some people are going to be upset no matter what you write.
  6. by   roxannekkb
    And I agree with you, rncountry, what does it matter if FN was bipolar (which I find hard to believe anyway). Who cares? It doesn't negate her accomplishments.

    There is always going to be controversy about FN, depending on who you talk to. Some want to believe that today's nursing problems are all her fault. I think that most of the negatives about her have to do with the image--the docile lady with the lamp--rather than who she really was. And if nurses want to unload the blame on a woman who's been dead for nearly 100 years, well, I'd say that nursing is in worse shape than we thought!
  7. by   Pinky18
    Edited - spam - TOS violation.
    Last edit by Nurse Ratched on May 12, '03
  8. by   SandySummers
    We wrote this article up on our web site, The Center for Nursing Advocacy, if you are interested in a different perspective.


    Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
    Executive Director
    The Center for Nursing Advocacy