From Nightingale to Now: The Evolution of Nursing and Nursing Theory
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The profession of nursing has come a long way in the past century. In the 1880s nurses had a reputation as being “drunken, dishonest, and disreputable” (Hoyt, 2010); today, Americans rank nursing as the most ethical profession in the field of health care (Hoyt, ...view middle of the document...
This core set of ethical principles continues to inform the development of nursing theories to this day.
The significance of the impact that Nightingale had on the nursing profession cannot be overestimated. In 1860 Nightingale published Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not, a seminal work that helped to define the role of nurses and the nursing profession, setting new standards for the profession and establishing paradigms that continue to inform the role of nurses and the development of nursing theories (Judd et al, 2010). That same year Nightingale opened a nurse training school, and continued to help make the role of nurses in society be seen as a respectable and important profession.
Nursing has always had a spiritual component, and Nightingale certainly continued to reinforce the idea that nursing was a spiritual, and even religious, calling (Andrist, 2006). In contemporary times, this adherence to the spiritual underpinnings has grown to inform the ethical and moral components of the profession; even those nurses who may not feel a spiritual pull in their personal or professional lives are still functioning in a profession that is firmly rooted in ethical and moral principles.
Nightingale’s work served to establish nearly all the advancements that would arise in the nursing profession in the coming decades. It was her work, Notes on Nursing, which set the tone for the establishment of nursing theories; all the subsequent nursing theories owe their existence to her work and her writings. Though a thorough discussion of all nursing theories is beyond the scope of this discussion, it is possible to provide at least a cursory examination of some seminal theories as a means of elucidating the way in which nursing theories have developed from the time off Nightingale to the present.
Over the next few decades after Nightingale’s time, the role of nursing continued to be codified and improved upon, as the contributions of various professionals influenced the way nurses carried out their duties. Isabella Hampton Robb, appointed the head of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 1889, established a set of standards and a grading system for nurses that continue to serve as the foundation for nursing education to this day (Judd et al, 2010). Of all the events in the 20th century that served to redefine and improve public perception of nursing, however, none was more significant than World War II (Judd et al, 2010). Nurses serving in the military were seen as heroes to the American public, and the profession took on a new, elevated status that continues to this day. In the decades after WWII, the development of nursing...