Jump to content

What Would Nightingale Think of Us Now?


Some thoughts on what Florence Nightingale would think of today's Nursing profession.

by GingerFowler GingerFowler (New)

Specializes in Med surg. Has 13 years experience.

Would Florence like or dislike Nursing today?

What Would Nightingale Think of Us Now?

Florence Nightingale is known to everyone who enters the nursing profession.  She is the pinnacle of nursing, the “Lady with the Lamp”, the Mother of Modern Nursing. Nightingale said that the nursing profession would not come into its own for 100 years from her time.   But what would she think of us now?

There isn’t a nursing student on this planet that would say “who is Florence Nightingale?”.  Her work with the Crimean War changed the world.  She was a woman ahead of her time - breaking societal norms -  to do the right thing.  She set the course for nursing to the profession it is today.

Things Nightingale May Like

I believe she would be impressed by the technology we have at our advantage.  Medicine back in her time was more an observable ‘guessing game’.  The stagnant air was seen as unhealthy, so she directed her students to be sure clean, fresh air was available when caring for a patient.  Drawing labs was unheard of, medication administration was not in the scope of practice for the nurse, and basic housekeeping was revolutionary around a sick patient.  No insurance companies made financial demands on procedures and no one filled out a survey to complain about the food from the kitchen.

I believe she would be very proud of how the nurse has evolved.  We are now considered part of a medical team instead of the doctor’s subordinate. We no longer have to stand up and let the physician have our seat. Nurses are considered to be trustworthy in the eyes of the public.  When the pandemic was in full swing, it was the nurse who stepped up and helped get America through it.  We all went home with marks on our faces from our PPE and our hearts heavy with the burden of care for our patients who were infected.  Some of us went home with the virus in us and got sick, but we persevered.  I believe Nightingale would smile and tell us “Well done”.

I also think she would get a kick out of TikTok videos!

Things Nightingale Would Not Have Liked

Have you ever gone to a hospital for clinical or started your new job fresh out of college and once you got on the floor the seasoned nurses treated you like dirt?  Have you ever seen a seasoned nurse talk down to a new nurse like she was stupid because she asked a question?  We have all been that new nurse or that student and felt overwhelmed only to have our colleagues make everything worse by bullying you all shift!

“Nurses eat their own.” This is my biggest pet peeve with the profession! No one is perfect. We are a team, and if this ship is sinking, we are all going down with it!

I believe Nightingale would tell us that we need to set our differences aside and care for the patient.  If someone is falling behind on their medication pass or has a total care patient that has C-Diff, we should come to our fellow nurse’s aid.  Nightingale knew that nursing was not a one-person job. This is why she wrote her book and established her training program.  Nursing is a team sport.

Another thing that Nightingale would not have liked is how the money involved in healthcare is allotted.  What I mean by that is the health disparities we see in the American healthcare system would confound Nightingale.  I can picture her saying: “What do you mean this child can’t get this procedure because their parents don’t have the money?”

The money that is involved in healthcare in America is astonishing!  We spend the most money of any country on our healthcare, but we have poor outcomes overall in our public health.  I believe this would be Nightingale’s strongest dislike of our modern healthcare.  When she worked in the Crimean War, she was caring for those in great need, not worried if that bandage, she was using was scanned to the patient’s account.  She went to where the need was and was able to improve the patient outcomes without having to deal with expenses.  True, she came from wealth, so money was not a priority per se, but she was able to focus on the great work.

I feel that nursing can get distracted because of Press Ganey scores and insurance claims to a degree. The amount of charting nursing does to legally cover everything can feel overwhelming and that is a direct result of monetary justification as well as legal documentation of the patient care.

Overall, I believe Nightingale would be very proud of how nursing has progressed to the amazing profession it is today. I believe her vision was that nursing would be one of the most trusted and dependable positions in healthcare. I am proud to be a part of her continuing legacy. We should all be proud to be the nurses Nightingale always knew we could be!


Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910. (1969). Notes on Nursing: What it Is, And What it Is Not. New York :Dover Publications.

Ginger Fowler, BSN is a MSN student with Aspen University. She also works nightshift at a VA in Tennessee

1 Article   1 Post

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Register To Comment