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The Nightingale Pledge - Still relevant today?

Posted

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

I may be by myself on this, but I have to ask. I don't mean to start an argument (hope I don't), but this has been on my mind for a while.

How do people feel about The Nightingale Pledge?

Personally, I feel like it could use an update.

I feel like its outdated and perhaps out of touch, and it diminishes the critical thinking and professionalism that one needs to be an excellent nurse, instead focusing on nurses promising to be good people and to play handmaiden to the doctors.

I wouldn't mind an oath for nurses...but I'm not a fan of the one we currently have. If I were on a committee to write a new pledge, I would want to add to it some wording about being critical thinkers and knowledgeable about our fields. Something that encompasses our roles as professional clinicians AND as comforters and caretakers. I would definitely keep the part about elevating the standard of our profession. I would probably want to update the wording on the "aid the physician in his work"...because heath care is our work too, and it takes a team.

For anyone who doesn't recall the pledge, here it is:

"I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care."

Anyway, I'm just wondering if I am the only one who feels this way. Please don't hate - I still love my job as a nurse and I try to be a good one!

Edited by Joe V

I think it's outdated and irrelevant. I can't imagine adults being made to say this, or actually saying it.

Nonyvole, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency.

Eh, I think it's all in how it gets interpreted. Because I can read it and see it as something that yes, is rather outdated, but then I can also read it and make connections to nursing practice today.

Really, it can be subtle. Let me be a bit more specific, and break it down...

"I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully." Okay, so the very beginning can be a bit touchy, based on one's religious preferences, but I'm also seeing in there that hey, I promise to not publicly put up things on Facebook/end up on the nightly news doing things that would cause doubt in my nursing abilities, and that I will actually use what I learned.

"I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug." First do no harm, remember the responsibilities of the nurse in regards to medication administration, and as Barbara Bush said, just say no to recreational drug use.

"I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession," Big guns here. Nurses have been considered the most ethical out there for several years now, keep the trend going. And elevate it by not allowing nursing practice to stagnate. Use our critical thinking skills and continuing education to improve oneself and continually hold ourselves to a high standard of care.

"and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling." Patient confidentiality. Show our professionalism by keeping our personal lives where they belong - away from the bedside.

"With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work," yeah, this one is a product of the times when it was the doctors, nurses, and charwoman to clean the wards. But replace "physician" with "health care team" and hey, we're team players!

"and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care." Again, be professional. Show, don't tell, that we as nurses are focused on the highest level of patient care and to improving ourselves as nurses. Don't show up to work and spend the entire shift ignoring patients, but do that hourly rounding and communicate with them. Don't be like the nurses back in the day, when the attitude was "you're the patient and I'm the nurse, you do as I say and don't ask questions." My opinion is that the pendulum has swung a bit too far in the opposite direction, but hey, nothing's perfect.

So yes. Two sides to the coin with this one. My personal opinion is that I like it, I can see how it still applies today, and it's also nice to look at it and see how the entire context of nursing has evolved over the centuries. (But I'm a history buff and researching nursing history? One of my more relaxing activities. Besides Candy Crush. And Sudoku.)

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

It's not that ancient.....my nursing class took the pledge at our capping ceremony in the mid-'90s. I do think it could use some modifications---dear Lord, please get rid of that "passing my life in purity" verse!---but I see nothing wrong in standing for high ideals and stating that publicly. It's tradition....and not all tradition is bad.

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

It's not that ancient.....my nursing class took the pledge at our capping ceremony in the mid-'90s.

Yes, my class took the pledge too, in 2003!

I totally agree that its not ALL bad. I dont want to trash it all....just update it ;)

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

Me too. Get rid of the "purity" and I'm good to go!

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

It saddens me that nurses want to abolish every bit of our history. I have no problem with the Nightengale Pledge; we said it at our capping ceremony and again when we graduated in 1985. Like others said, you don't have to take every bit of it seriously.

Besides, who is going to write a new pledge? How would we ever find a pledge that would suit everyone? We have much bigger fish to fry in our profession.

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

It saddens me that nurses want to abolish every bit of our history. I have no problem with the Nightengale Pledge; we said it at our capping ceremony and again when we graduated in 1985. Like others said, you don't have to take every bit of it seriously.

Besides, who is going to write a new pledge? How would we ever find a pledge that would suit everyone? We have much bigger fish to fry in our profession.

I have no idea who would write a new one. It will probably never happen, and maybe the original will stick around or get phased out. Who knows. This is definitely not the biggest fish to fry, I agree. Just a topic of conversation. :)

As far as abolishing history, I think theres an argument to be made for that but also an argument to be made for progress. As you said, though, this is not a big fish to fry...so if it DID disappear, it wouldnt be the end of all things nursing, either.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

I have no idea who would write a new one. It will probably never happen, and maybe the original will stick around or get phased out. Who knows. This is definitely not the biggest fish to fry, I agree. Just a topic of conversation. :)

As far as abolishing history, I think theres an argument to be made for that but also an argument to be made for progress. As you said, though, this is not a big fish to fry...so if it DID disappear, it wouldnt be the end of all things nursing, either.

Valid point.

I still believe in keeping it.

And I like this thread. Nice and light. So far!

NicuGal, MSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU. Has 30 years experience.

You have to look at the era it was written in. It is part of our nursing history and you take out of it what you want. If you don't like what it says, don't say it.

Ours now now a days would have to say something about kissing every ones butt and a script to say at the bedside. This oath goes back to when nurses did rule the wards and weren't there to make you happy, only to get you healthy.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I think it is more of a tradition than anything. I get sooooooooooo tired of people taking offense at the most minute details. Smile a little!

Huh. I never knew there was a nightingale pledge 😳

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

Don'tStop, ASN. First, I LOVE your username. Nurses never stop learning or doing or being at the forefront of healthcare.

Second, the pledge is recited at some pinning ceremonies as a tradition. Some people do not like traditions. You can be a great nurse without reciting a script

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

Second, the pledge is recited at some pinning ceremonies as a tradition. Some people do not like traditions. You can be a great nurse without reciting a script

It seems a lot of people were giving the option of participating or not. I had no idea that was so common. All I knew was MY nursing school....and mine was not an option. In fact, I didn't buy a pin because I wasn't interested in owning one (nursing is still great, dont worry)....so they insisted that I go to the pinning ceremony anyway and get pinned with a "loaner" pin that I had to give back after the ceremony. I don't think it will be any shock when I say that it wasn't particularly a special moment for me. :) But for some it is, and I respect that.

I think it is more of a tradition than anything. I get sooooooooooo tired of people taking offense at the most minute details. Smile a little!

Don't worry, even though I'm not a massive fan of the pledge, I do still smile on a daily basis. Just making conversation! :)

My school doesn't even do pinning ceremonies anymore so this is probably why I hadn't heard of it.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

My school doesn't even do pinning ceremonies anymore so this is probably why I hadn't heard of it.

:(

I cried like a baby at my pinning.

Nonyvole, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency.

:(

I cried like a baby at my pinning.

Glad I wasn't the only one...