‘Notes on Nursing’ Holds Both Historic and Modern-Day Value

July 8, 2013

It’s difficult to believe that there was a time before people realized the value of proper sanitation in healthcare facilities. Can you imagine what would happen today if you walked into a hospital and someone tried to stitch you up with a needle that had been used before instead of one that came from a sterile package? Or what if a nurse failed to prep you with iodine before surgery, or worse, failed to wash her hands and don a gown? You’d not only blow your lid, but you’d have grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. However, the medical profession wasn’t always so clean. And before the ministrations of Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, unsanitary conditions in hospitals were de rigueur. In fact, they were places to be feared, institutions where you were likely to catch something worse than the malady you came in with. But Nightingale changed all that, and she made her revolutionary findings about sanitation and nursing in general into an instant classic called ‘Notes on Nursing’, a tome that still holds value today despite the fact that it was originally published in 1859.

If you’re looking to enter the noble profession of nursing, you might be interested to know some of the history behind what made the modern institution of nursing what it is today. In fact, Nightingale is often lauded as the first modern nurse thanks to the way she revolutionized medical practice, implementing simple but effective techniques like washing hands, changing gowns, and opening windows to let in fresh air. But the “lady with the lamp”, as she was dubbed while tending to wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War, due to her penchant for making nightly rounds, also had definite ideas about the role of a nurse, particularly a well-trained one. And it wasn’t long before she began to lay the foundations for the training of professional nurses who would be qualified to deliver care using simple rules that would help to minimize infection and the spread of disease and expedite the healing process. In fact, she started the first secular nursing school in the world and set the stage for what would become the modern nursing profession.

Of course, many of her ideas about nursing will come across as outdated. The aprons and caps of old have been replaced by scrubs, for example. And most modern nurses would scoff at the idea of saluting doctors. So there are certainly bound to be some portions of Nightingale’s work that don’t necessarily stand the test of time. However, it is at least interesting to see how the tenets of professional nursing began, and you might be surprised at the wealth of information that she was able to collect in a time when standards of sanitation were largely ignored.

In fact, much of what she advised in ‘Notes on Nursing’ over 150 years ago remains relevant today. And she stresses the fact that nursing is more than just a job; it’s a vocation that requires nurses to approach healing in a holistic manner that takes the overall well-being of the patient into consideration, both body and soul. Although you probably won’t be required to partake of this audio book when attending nursing school or utilizing sites like CNACertification-Training.com, it’s definitely something you’ll want to read on your own if providing compassionate care and observing proper ethics concern you at all. For those seeking a history lesson, ‘Notes on Nursing’ provides an interesting snapshot of a bygone era. But there are also important lessons about the responsibilities inherent in joining the nursing profession, and every healthcare practitioner can benefit from Nightingale’s wise directives.

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