Raising Nursing Awareness – Examining The Past (And Future) Of Nursing Public Awareness Campaigns

Florence Nightingale
Even today, nursing can be undervalued. Nurses provide a valuable service in the healthcare industry – day in, and day out, and many don’t notice the hard work that nurses put into making our country a healthier place.

That’s why public awareness campaigns about the value of nursing are so critical. Public awareness campaigns help increase the visibility of nursing. This doesn’t just help honor current nurses – it helps inspire future generations to choose our noble profession, and use their knowledge and skills to help others.

In this article, we’ll take a look at two of the largest nursing public awareness campaigns – one that began in the 19th century, and one that began in 2002 – and examine how they’ve affected the nursing industry in a positive way.

Florence Nightingale – The Founder Of The First Ever Nursing Public Awareness Campaign?

If you’re a nurse, you’ve no doubt heard stories about Florence Nightingale. A British nurse, Florence Nightingale first grew to public prominence during the Crimean War, fought between Russia and a variety of allied forces, including England.

On October 21, 1854, Florence Nightingale traveled to Istanbul with a staff of 38 volunteer nurses that she trained herself, and a complement of 15 Catholic nuns.

After arriving at the war front in November, what they saw overwhelmed them – overworked nurses delivering poor care to wounded soldiers. Medicine was in short supply. Basic hygiene was being neglected, and soldiers were dying from easily preventable infections caused by the poor conditions of the front.

And Florence Nightingale took action. She worked with the British Government and Isambard Kingdom Brunel to create a modern, prefabricated hospital, which helped improve the health outcomes of soldiers. She also implemented strict hand washing techniques, disinfecting guidelines, and other hygienic principles.

The result? Nightingale reduced deaths dramatically. With the help of her staff, death rates plunged from 42% to just under 2% – in less than a year. This is what led to her popular status as a folk hero – “The Lady Of The Lamp” to soldiers in Crimea.

And once she came back to England, she used her status not to benefit herself – but to promote the the value of improved levels of healthcare throughout all levels of British society. From the poor in the workhouses to the richest aristocrats, Florence Nightingale believed that higher levels of public health were critical for a functional society.

Her largest contribution to the field of nursing came with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas’s Hospital. This nursing school laid the foundation of the modern profession of nursing – and provided women who had previously been unable to find work with a viable, respectable career.

For all this, Florence Nightingale has been remembered as a hero. International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday – and dozens of hospitals, museums, monuments, and other public honors have been dedicated to her over the years.

Her use of her status to promote public awareness of nursing was a tremendous boon to the profession – and her contribution to the nursing profession is still unmatched.

Johnson & Johnson’s Campaign For Nursing’s Future – Preparing Nurses For The Future Of The Industry

We can’t just think about the past – nurses must always turn their attention to the future. And the Johnson & Johnson Campaign For Nursing’s Future does just that.

This campaign was first established in 2002. A brutal nursing shortage took US hospitals and employees to the breaking point – and it became clear that a public awareness campaign would be required, in order to recruit new nurses, enhance the image of the profession, and help retain current nurses.

Johnson & Johnson invested $50 million into this national initiative, and over the past 15 years, the Campaign for Nursing’s Future has been recognized with dozens of accolades from the AHA, the UCLA School of Nursing, The National League For Nursing, and many others.

This widespread campaign was directly responsible for increasing student enrollment in nursing schools, boosting interest in the profession among young students, and providing millions of dollars in aid to the nursing community in the form of scholarships, grants, and fellowships.

Major projects include Discover Nursing, a website that allows prospective nursing students to gain a deeper understanding of the profession and gain access to valuable resources related to nursing schools, scholarship opportunities, and potential career paths.

By spreading the word about the benefits of a career in nursing, providing students with the resources they need to pursue the profession, and investing millions into the nursing industry, Johnson & Johnson’s Campaign for Nursing’s Future has truly helped elevate the profession of nursing.

Things May Change – But Nurses Are Always Needed

Florence Nightingale’s public awareness campaign back in the 19th century, and  Johnson & Johnson’s Campaign for Nursing’s Future may not seem similar – but they are. Both public awareness campaigns focused on a need for nurses – not just in the present, but in the future.

Things change. Life is not the same now as it was when Florence Nightingale got her start. But one thing never changes – Nurses are always needed.

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