Theory of Florence Nightingale and
Personal Nursing Philosophy of Misty Sanders RN

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Misty Sanders


Fresno Pacific University














Theory of Florence Nightingale and
Personal Nursing Philosophy of Misty Sanders

Introduction and History of Florence

In choosing a theorist for this paper I
knew right away that I was going to select Florence Nightingale. I only knew a
small amount about her but it was just enough to intrigue me and provide me
with the desire to learn more about her as a theorist and her theory. Florence nightingale
was deemed the trailblazer for professional nursing theorists and considered
the founder of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale was the first to suggest
that nursing required training and education. She is the very first nursing
theorist. Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence Italy. She
was named after the city she was born in. her parents were William “Wen” and
Frances “Franny” Nightingale. Nightingales family was considered in that time
to be wealthy and they were well educated. Nightingale lived in the Victorian
era and in this time the women who were in their social class were suppose to
be domestic and become wives and mothers. This was frustrating for Nightingale
as her attempts to get trained as a nurse were opposed by her family and mostly
her mother. Her family viewed nursing to be and inappropriate occupation for a
woman of her status. Florence was highly educated because her father valued
education and thought it to be very important. He educated her from a young
child and she was a gifted learner with her strongest subject being
mathematics. She found comfort in her religion and had a calling from God where
she said he had called upon her to reduce human suffering. (Selanders, Louise,
2018, p.2). At the time she experienced her calling from God she was only 16
years old and was not sure about what exactly they meant. After some time went
by she had more of her callings from God and was able to figure out what they
meant. Nightingales family was against her


a nurse because they viewed nursing as an occupation for the lower classes. She
enrolled in educational training at the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses
at Kaiserworth in Germany in 1850 and then again in 1851. When she finally got
the chance to study nursing she took full advantage and read everything she could
get her hands on, she volunteered at hospitals, and visited nursing homes. At
this time she was able to catch on to the fact that some of the modern
treatments were killing patients more often than they were saving them.
Florence realized and truly believed that patients could be spared death if
they were provided basic care like, warmth, rest, cleanliness, light, and food.
She started proving this and was able to utilize these beliefs in the Crimean
War in 1854 she and 38 other nurses were sent to minister. The conditions at
the hospital were horrible for the wounded soldiers receiving care. They were
unsanitary with incompetent nurse and care givers. Nightingale and the other
nurses worked to clean the wards and provide the basic care (that she proved
was beneficial) to the wounded soldiers. The basic care that was provided became
standards of care that were established and required. These basic standards of
care were things like having clean clothes, clean dressings for wounds, and
food. Florence would help the solders with psychosocial needs as well like
helping them write letters to family. Nightingale earned herself the nickname, “The
Lady of The Lamp” because she would wander the halls at night and offer support
to the soldiers. Six months after Nightingale and her nurses arrived at Scutari;
mortality in the hospital had dropped from 42.7 percent to 2.2 percent. This
decrease in mortality made Nightingale famous in England. When she got back
from the war and discovered her new found fame she was able to open nursing
schools to train nurses. Nursing came to be a respectable occupation for woman
who wanted to

work outside the home. Florence used her incredible mathematical skills to
become a


and she created a statistical analysis that analyzed costs and mortality rates
associated with running military hospitals. One of these analyses was called
the Coxcomb Chart. Nightingale wrote, “Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it
is Not:” This book gave instructions when caring for the sick. Florence got
sick in 1855 with “Crimean Fever”, but it was most likely brucellosis.
Brucellosis is contracted by drinking contaminated milk. Nightingale had
lasting effects from this illness for over 25 years. Florence Nightingale died
in 1910.

Detailed Description of Florence
Nightingales Theory

Nightingale was a religious woman who believed that Gods plan could be awoken
and seen for each patient. Florence Nightingale had a primary focus on nursing
education. To Florence Nightingale nursing was a career as and a higher
calling. Florence is the one who produced the new concept of nursing regarding
a patient’s environment. Nightingale believed that disease was Gods way of o
healing the body of things like poison, decay, and other conditions.
Nightingale believed that a nurse’s foundation should start with God and it was
important for a nurse to provide an environment with conditions that would not
inhibit the healing process. Nightingale believed also that nurses should
carefully observe the patient and create a calm and supportive environment for
the patients healing to take place. Florence believed that nurses should have
morals and be representatives for change in society. Some of her other beliefs
of what a nurse should be were hard working, noble, and selfless. Something
that it very important in nursing that nightingale believed is that nurses are
independent decision makers that should be able to observe the patient and
provide facts about their condition to the doctor. As a result of the time
Florence Nightingale spent in the Crimean Wars, she was able to



up with the environmental theory. This theory was defined by Nightingale in her
book, “Notes on Nursing: What is, What it is not”, said “the act of utilizing
the environment of the

to assist him in recovery”. Nightingale is considered the first nursing
theorist and a huge pioneer of for the nursing profession. Nightingale has been
considered the founder of modern nursing but did not start out her journey
looking to create a nursing theory but she did want to define nursing. Her environmental
theory includes essential components of a healthy environment like fresh air,
pure water, effective drainage, cleanliness, warmth, light (especially direct
sunlight), and sufficient food supplies. These basic components can affect a patient’s
health and alter the environment. The nurse’s role is to create an environment
that is specific for each patient and is at optimal and ideal surroundings that
promote healing. The theory focuses on patient care and not on nursing process.
The assumptions made in the environmental theory are: natural laws, mankind can
achieve perfection, nursing is a calling, nursing is an art and science,
nursing is achieved through environmental alteration, nursing requires a
specific educational base, and nursing is distinct and separate from medicine.
The ten major concepts called Nightingale’s cannons:

and warmingLight
and noiseCleanliness
of the areaHealth
of houseBed
and beddingPersonal
hope and adviceFoodobservation



theory was considered pioneering in its time but these principles are still
being utilized and practiced and she has influenced nursing significantly.

Why the theorist represents me as a
professional nurse

Nightingale was highly religious and based all of her nursing care, research,
theory, and teachings on her belief in serving God. In the book Understanding
the Work of Nurse Theorists: a Creative Beginning, I read a sentence that made
me realize I would be doing my paper on Florence Nightingale. The sentence
said, “people who choose to become nurses should do so out of desire to serve
God and humanity” (Sitzman, Kathleen PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, Eichelberger, Lisa
PhD, RN, 2017). As a child, my grandmother was an RN. My mother always told me
that nursing was a respectable field and it was a path that serves the lord and
humanity. This encouraged me to start my path to becoming a nurse.

            Florence Nightingale sought out to
become more than a wealthy social figure, mother and wife. Florence wanted to
be of service to humanity and God. For this reason I feel that she represents
me. The reason I wanted to become a nurse was to first serve God and do Gods
work and I wanted to help people which would be serving humanity. I worked in
the ICU and we were with patients and families at their most vulnerable times
in life. We were encouraged to pray with our patients and support them in any
way we could.

            Florence Nightingale is an inspiration
to me because she was highly intelligent and not afraid to go against what her family
assumed she should do. She was confident in her calling to become a nurse. She
was a strong and independent woman of God who was not afraid to break out of
social norms. I may not be as strong and influential as she is but I aspire to



Examples of how Florence Nightingales
Theory can be implemented into my professional role as a Nurse

            Since Florence Nightingale was a
religious person, I believe it to be an example that she felt God should be a
part of nursing and that nursing should be considered a higher calling. This
can be implemented in practice through my previous example of praying with patients
if they would like. Most of us become nurses because we want to help people and
serve humanity. If we take the idea of nursing as a higher calling we can
accomplish our goal in helping people. In nursing we are always making sure
that our patients have the most optimal environment to promote healing. We are
required to bath them, brush their teeth, and provide clean bedding and
sunlight. Her theory is in everyday practice in the nursing field. Hospitals
have protocols and rules for keeping a clean optimal environment but ultimately
it is up to the nurse to create this environment for the patient. In
nightingales theory she mentions the nurse has to be observant and able to
bring facts to the doctor about the patient. This is a practice that is highly
important in everyday day nursing. It is up to the nurse to catch any change in
the patient’s condition. We need to be educated and have critical thinking

My Philosophy

taking this class I had never thought of nursing theory’s and could never have
come up with my own nursing philosophy. Nursing is a profession where care is
provided to the sick or ill.

            At a young age I knew I wanted to
become a nurse when I was old enough because I believed it could be a way to
“help people’. I also thought it would be a way to help my



and serve God. I believe just like Nightingale, that nursing is a calling. It
takes a certain type of person to care for people in the hardest and most
difficult times in their lives.

you get that license, you gain a responsibility to a person who has to be able
to make critical decisions. The patients, their families and others in society
depend on us and our skills. 

            I personally believe that nursing is
a calling and it should be something we are proud to do. Every nurse should
want to help, and view nursing as a way to do so. If a person gets into nursing
strictly as a way to make money, I believe they will be unhappy and unfulfilled.
Nursing is a highly emotional, intense, dirty, bloody, and critical field and
will be difficult to handle if your heart and mind are not both involved. We
must always advocate for our patients we must be educated, observant,
compassionate, and kind.

            I believe that my part in giving
back to society is through friends and family. I receive texts, calls, and
picture messages consistently asking me for advice. I do not mind at all
because those questions being asked are my way of helping my community. I have
also been blessed with a job that enables me to teach and train other nurses to
be thoughtful in their work. I have been able to work with people who are in
rehabilitation and fighting for a certain level of independence. I have also
worked in the ICU where people are fighting for their lives, and now I am
teaching and training. In all of my work, I believe it is important to be
compassionate, and to remember why I became a nurse. It is not an easy
profession but it is an important one.

            My philosophy is then; I suppose to
become a nurse for the purpose of helping others and serving god, not for the
financial aspect of it. It consists of serving my community, and viewing
nursing as a calling. Taking our profession seriously and always use our skills
as nurses even when not on duty.


AACN Professional Values

            When educated at the baccalaureate
level a nurse is responsible for developing and understanding professional
values. The values are given for nurses to advance their caring, understanding,
and ethical behavior. Altruism is a concern for welfare and well being of
others. In a professional practice, altruism is reflected by the nurses concern
and advocacy for the welfare of patients, other nurses, and other healthcare
providers.  When I worked in the rehab
center the doctor would stay late and do paperwork and ask not to be bothered
unless it was absolutely necessary so he could get his work done. One night my
patient was complaining of pain and pain medicine was not helping. We tried
multiple non pharmaceutical interventions until he started to cry. His daughter
pulled me aside and told me that was not usual for him and that usually was
able to tolerate pain pretty well. I decided to notify the doctor even though
it may just have been for pain; I felt it was the right thing to do. He ended
up having an aneurism that was caught in time and the doctor was grateful to me
for picking up on the issue. He had surgery so it could have just been surgery
pain but I felt like maybe it was more because of all the signs. Autonomy is
the right to self-determination. Professional practice reflects autonomy when
the nurse respects the patient’s right to make decisions about their health
care. I always think about my patients who refuse their medications when I
think of autonomy. Patients have the right to refuse, and we as nurses (who
know the right thing is to take the medication as prescribed) have to respect
those rights. Human dignity is respect for the inherent worth and uniqueness of
individuals and populations. In professional practice, concern for human
dignity is reflected when the nurse values and respects all patients and colleagues.
In the ICU this was



by keeping my patients covered up and keeping their hair done and teeth
brushed. At times the last thing we need to worry about is how their hair looks
of if they are covered up. But these patients are sedated and cannot speak for
themselves. I would like for someone to keep me covered up if I was in the
hospital so I try to give my patients the same respect for human dignity that I
would want. Integrity is acting in accordance with an appropriate code of
ethics and accepted standards of practice. Integrity is reflected in
professional practice when the nurse is honest and provides care based on
ethical framework that is accepted within the profession. There was a medical
assistant that I work with just a few days ago who had a finger stick. There
was no one around and she came out to find her supervisor and let her know. She
was embarrassed and upset but I told her that she had shown integrity by being
honest and I explained that these things happen to lots of nurses. She could
have just kept it to herself since there was no one around her but she chose to
do the right thing. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one sees.
Social justice is acting in accordance with fair treatment regardless of
economic status, race, ethnicity, age, citizenship, disability, or sexual
orientation. Social justice is shown in nursing in so many ways and we as
nurses provide the same care to everyone regardless of the factors provided
above. An example is on the dialysis unit, there are sometimes 6 or 7 patients
waiting and only 3 machines. The way it is decided who gets the chair is not by
economic status, race, ethnicity, age, citizenship, disability, or sexual
orientation. They take the most emergent cases, the patients who need it the
most and have the worst labs. These core values embody the professional nurse.
They become values that the nurse should live by and practice in a professional
environment. The more knowledgeable we are on these values the more we are able
to use them in our every day work.





            Florence Nightingales nursing theory
is a ground breaking theory and has paved the way for nurses since it was
created. She changed the view on nursing and because of her nursing is
considered a career and a respectable profession. Florence also changed nursing
as a whole by introducing her environmental theory. This assignment has made me
realize my own personal nursing philosophy and I feel like I have values and
beliefs that are more clearly defined. The professional values utilized in nursing
provide a basic framework for moral and character development. Each of the
different parts of this paper have provided me with better understanding of my
own personal character and provided me with moral and professional development.


















B. Florence Nightingale. http://www.unc.edu/~nielsen/soci708/cdocs/cohen.htm