I really didn’t know a lot about nursing and its amazing history when I started school, but I remember one hospital I went to really showed me how great our past is. This hospital has a whole hallway dedicated to its nursing program that was founded in the early 1900s. It was amazing to see these life size pictures of early nurses in their uniforms, standing bravely in a row. They all look so prepared to take on any challenge, like soldiers preparing for battle. I always enjoyed walking down that hallway and looking at all the pictures, realizing that each of these students was in my position at some point. So, call me sentimental, but it really made me feel like a part of history.
And our history all began with the “Lady with the Lamp” – Florence Nightingale. A woman who really pushed nursing into the world, separating us from caregivers and physicians, molding us into the amazing profession we’ve become today. Her commitment to patient care and determination to change hospital administration with a compassion for humanity puts her pretty high up on my nursing pedestal. There’s a part of me that wishes I could go back in time and see what challenges nurses faced in those early days during the Crimean War. I want to see how nursing has changed, how our challenges have evolved, or maybe how they’ve stayed the same.
What would I ask her now if Florence Nightingale walked into my classroom to teach? What do you say to someone who founded the very profession we’re all striving to become a part of? There are so many things, but one of the most important to me would be to ask if we’re measuring up. Are we studying/learning/practicing up to the standards she once held her nurses up to? Have we done well in the nursing profession so far?
She’s contributed so much to the profession of nursing as we know it today, are we living up to her vision? I can only hope that the hard work we’re putting in is pointing us in the direction that nursing was intended to go. Nursing students: what would you ask Florence Nightingale if you had the chance to talk to her today?