As the profession of nursing became prevalent, nursing theories began to develop. Meleis (1997) defines nursing theory as a formulated theory that relates to existing nursing standards while proposing new concepts of nursing. These theories are used to direct nurses in their research and actions (as cited in George, 2002, p. 5). They are also used to predict outcomes of actions taken and to predict the patient’s response (George, 2002, p. 5). Nursing theories are a compilation of information used to provide a universal structure of how one should practice nursing (Parker, 2001, p. 8). Many leaders in the nursing field have developed nursing theories; but in this paper the theory of Florence Nightingale will be the focus of discussion. It was her belief that the environment can be altered in order to improve the state of a patient and promote healing (Selanders, 2010, p. 83). Nightingale’s work changed nursing, and heavily impacts health care today. The purpose of this paper is to clearly explain Nightingale’s theory and its current importance in the nursing field.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), is thought of as the founder of modern nursing. One of Nightingale’s experiences that greatly influenced her later work was her contribution to the Crimean War (1853). Shortly after the war began, very ill British soldiers began to arrive in Turkey for care. Within a few short weeks thousands of men were suffering from several diseases and infections. In 1854, Nightingale was asked to take a group of 38 nurses to Turkey for assistance. Nightingale and her team of nurses found the conditions in the army hospital absolutely dreadful (Fee & Garofalo, 2010, para. 1). The soldiers were still wearing their dirty uniforms, were without clean linen and lacked decent meals (Fee & Garofalo, 2010, para. 2).
Nightingale worked tirelessly around the clock. She became known as “the lady with the lamp”, making nightly rounds long after other medical officers had stopped. By improving the quality of cleanliness she was able to significantly reduce the death rate of her patients. She returned to England as a nationwide heroine (Fee & Garofalo, 2010, para. 4). After her shocking experience caring for the British Army, Nightingale initiated a campaign to improve the quality of nursing in military hospitals. Nightingale’s relentless campaigning led to the formation of the Army Medical College. “Nightingale’s efforts gained public recognition of the need for trained nurses in hospitals and workhouses.” (Monterio, 1985 p. 183)
Spreading the Word
In order to share her opinions on improvement, Nightingale published Notes on Nursing: What it is, and what it is not (1860) (Selanders, 2010, p.84). In her works, she detailed her beliefs concerning the healthcare of the ill. One of her theories listed in the “Notes on Nursing”, is the Environmental Theory. This theory explains the necessary components in order to restore and maintain the health status of a patient....