Florence Nightingale is widely known to be the founder of modern nursing. This reputation is well-deserved due to her extensive work in nursing and health care, providing the following generations of nurses with invaluable knowledge. Her legacy can be discussed in relation to her influence on several aspects: the introduction of sanitary practices, public health reforms, and health statistics.
Florence Nightingale’s Contributions to Nursing
Nightingale’s contributions to nursing are largely based on the fact that she introduced hygiene and sanitation practices into the field of health care. When she and her team of nurses started working in military hospitals during the Crimean War, they were shocked by the horrible unsanitary conditions of their patients (Ribeiro et al., 2020). Although military officials were initially critical of Nightingale’s actions, she continued to implement sanitary practices because she knew that unhygienic conditions were closely linked to high mortality rates. Nurses started to clean the wards and kitchens, bathe the patients, and implement other hygienic procedures regularly. The results of Nightingale’s approach could be seen within several months: the rates of mortality had dropped significantly, which confirmed her theory about the relation between sanitation and mortality.
Nightingale realized that improving health care is only possible if a complex approach is developed. Because of that, she advocated for implementing reforms that would improve living standards and conditions and eventually become the foundation of positive changes in public health. She wrote thousands of letters to different policy-makers and physicians who could influence the promotion of the reforms that she considered necessary (Ellis, 2019). She played a major role in reforming civilian hospitals by explaining the importance and health benefits of such factors as proper housing, clean water and air, ventilation, and nutritious food. She brought the issues and struggles of Britain’s poor to the public attention and helped to work on ways to improve their health conditions and well-being. Another major accomplishment of Florence Nightingale’s work is the foundation of the first nursing school in July 1860.
The success of many of these efforts to reform health care was largely due to Nightingale’s use of statistics and medical data. From the early years of her medical career, she was influenced by the works of different mathematicians and applied her knowledge of the subject to her work. The medical research she had done involving statistical data is what eventually allowed her to save hundreds of lives during the Crimean War. Apart from collecting data, Nightingale made groundbreaking progress in developing ways to visualize and use it. Many of her written works, notes, and records have numerous graphs and charts that are still used by researchers and health professionals today. One of her most well-known developments in data visualization is the “coxcomb” chart (Ellis, 2019). Originally, this graph was used by Nightingale to represent death rates and the causes of deaths that could have been avoided during the Crimean War. However, the coxcomb chart is still commonly used by medical researchers today.
It can be concluded that Florence Nightingale made an invaluable contribution to the nursing field, revolutionizing it and significantly changing how people viewed this profession. Her work related to sanitation practices made hygiene an integral part of health care and hospital operations. She also promoted public health changes, advocating for a complex approach that targeted different aspects of public life, such as standards and living conditions related to housing, nutrition, water, and air. Finally, she managed to incorporate her skills and knowledge of statistics into her work, which provided future nurses and medical researchers with important tools to collect and analyze health data.
Ellis, H. (2019). Florence Nightingale: Creator of modern nursing and public health pioneer. Journal of Perioperative Practice, 30(5), 145-146. Web.
Ribeiro, O. M., Martins, M. M., Trindade, L. D., Fassarella, C. S., Silva, J. M., & Faria, A. D. (2020). 200 years of Florence Nightingale: Contributions to the professional practice of nurses in hospitals. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 73(suppl 5). Web.