The history of nursing can be compared with that of the history of woman. When talking about women in nursing, one woman in particular seems to stand out. Florence Nightingale began the modern era of nursing by establishing the foundations for it. She is considered to be the founder of nursing.
Born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy, she received a classical education from her father. She later went on to study the European hospital system, and in 1850 she began training in nursing at the Institute of Saint Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt. She subsequently studied at the Institute for Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, Germany. In 1853 she became superintendent of the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London.
When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, Florence dispatched a letter to the British secretary of war, volunteering her services in Crimea. At the same time, unaware of her action, the minister of war proposed that she assume direction of all nursing operations at the war front. She set out for Üsküdar accompanied by 38 nurses. Under Nightingale’s supervision, efficient nursing departments were established at Üsküdar and later at Balaklava in Crimea. Through her tireless efforts the mortality rate among the sick and the wounded was greatly reduced.
Florence forever changed the “face” of nursing and nursing education. At the close of the war in 1860, with a fund raised in tribute to her services, Nightingale founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at Saint Thomas’s Hospital in London. The opening of this school marked the beginning of professional education in nursing. It is because of her that nursing evolved into what it is today.
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The Nightingale pledge was wrote by Lystra Gretter, and a Committee for the Farrand Training School for Nurses, Detroit, Michigan as a way to honor the founder of modern nursing. It was first used by the schools graduating class of 1893. It is an adaptation of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians. It states as follows:
“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.”
Florence was a very courageous woman, and I admire all that she did to improve the field of nursing. I feel that the Nightingale pledge is an everlasting memorial to the teachings and beliefs that Florence tried to instill. The spirit of the Nightingale pledge will never die. It will continue to be a honor to her and all of the work she did to improve nursing.