Florence Nightingale's Theory Thesis

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Florence Nightingale

The Life and Theories of Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale's theories formed the basis of modern hospital administration and nursing practice. Born into a wealthy, upper class family, she used her education to advance the field of nursing and to take the first steps to that transformed nursing into its modern form today. Nightingale emphasizes cleanliness, proper diet, and proper ventilation as the keys to maintaining health and preventing disease. This research discusses her theories and how they continue to apply in today's nursing profession.

The Life and Theories of Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale is credited with developing the theory and practice that would shape modern nursing practice. During her work in the Crimean War, Nightingale perfected her technique and theories. She not only saved the lives of many soldiers hurt during the war, but her theories about cleanliness and sanitation would save the lives of countless millions through her influence on the nursing profession.

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I chose the theories of Florence Nightingale for my project because they still stand today. Modern nursing practice was built on the theories of Florence Nightingale. Developing a thorough understanding of her practices provides a solid base for the exploration of modern nursing topics. Nightingale provided not only the best clinical care for her patients, she nurtured their mental well-being as well. She listened to them and treated them as the humanity that they represent. Carrying this attitude into modern practice results in the most effective nurse that one can be.

Identification of Theory

Florence Nightingale developed her theories over the course of her lifetime and works. Her theory was based on observations in the various institutions in which she worked and taught. Her theory was not written down formally, as with modern theories based on a single academic study. Her theories were formalized after her death by those who summarized them and presented them as a cohesive whole, but they were never formally written down in such a form when Florence Nightingale was alive.

Thesis on Florence Nightingale's Theory Assignment

Some of the components of Florence Nighingale's theory existed as thoughts contained in letters to various individuals. Florence Nightingale's theories exist as a concept and a way of caring for the ill. Although many of her observations were proven to be true by scientists who would come later, many were never formally proven. Yet they have become an important philosophical basis for modern nurses in their daily work.

The most important of Nightingale's concepts are those that have to do with the importance of cleanliness, ventilation, and reduction of moisture in the wards. These concepts are no longer considered a theory, but are considered a must. Now it is not the nurse that is responsible for them. These tasks fall on facilities managers and are built into the design of modern hospitals. However, they began with the theories of Florence Nightingale.

Reasons for Choosing this Theory

Even though Florence Nightingale never formalized her own theories and they remained as the principles that drove her practice, they form the basis of modern hospital management. The systems are much more complex than they were in her time, but the underlying principles are still the same. I chose her theories, as they are still the basis of modern nursing practice and continue to hold true in order to provide quality care in the modern nursing profession.

Overview of Research

This research paper will explore life and development of Florence Nightingale's nursing theories. It will provide an overview of her life and experiences that led to the development of her theories. It will explore the metaparadigm according to the theory. It will explore the major relationships between the concepts of the theory. Finally, it will provide a critique of the theory and how it can be applied to nursing practice today.

Life and Influences

Paradigimatic Origins of the Theory

Unlike other nursing theorists, Florence Nightingale did not rely on the works of others before her to form the paradigms that would eventually form the underlying theory of her nursing practice. Her paradigms did not develop all at once, but rather built upon the concepts learned throughout her and works. Florence Nightingale based her paradigms and the principles upon which she ran her nursing school on the observations throughout her life works.

Early Life

Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 into a wealthy Unitarian family. She grew up in a household with liberal ideals (Atwell, 1998). Her father was a Member of Parliament for 46 years, campaigning successfully for religious rights and to abolish the slave trade (Atwell, 1998). This gave Florence the perspective of how we fit into the grander scheme of things. She was naturally inclined to consider the problems of larger society, rather than focusing on individual successes or failures. She saw the bigger picture, which is a key to understanding her actions later in life. It was this liberal upbringing and life in the eyes of the public that prepared her for the challenges that she would face.

The education of Florence and her sister Penelope was supervised by her father, who was educated at the University of Cambridge (Atwell, 1998). He taught them Latin, Greek, history, philosophy, mathematics, modern language and music. He felt strongly in the importance of educating women at a time when their education was ignored by society (Atwell, 1998). Florence had a natural talent for academics and later helped Benjamin Jowett with his translation of Plato's Dialogues (Atwell, 1998).

Although Nightingale was highly educated, society gave her little chance to use that education in her early and teen years. She felt stifled by the role that society relegated to women, particularly women of her social status. At the age of 17, she had a mystical experience that culminated in a conviction to a larger purpose that would last the rest of her life (Atwell, 1998). Florence Nightingale had incredible abilities and craved action to fulfill her desires.

In 1845, Florence asked to become a nurse at Salisbury Infirmary. Her parents refused on the basis that nursing was relegated to women of lower status. Women on high social class were not supposed to engage in that type of menial labor (Atwell, 1998). In 1848, Florence went to teach poor children at the Ragged School in Westminster. Her time there exposed her to the poverty and social conditions that existed in the lower classes (Atwell, 1998). She decided that this was a place where she could do some good. However, she was denied this opportunity as well because her position was considered by her parents to be below her station in life.

Florence continued to have a desire to help the greater good. In 1849, she went on a tour of Egypt and Greece. While there she made extensive notes about the social conditions and archeological sites that she saw. On her return trip, while traveling through Germany she passed through Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf, where Pastor Theodor Fliedner had established a hospital, orphanage, and school. At age 30, against her parent's wishes, she returned to begin training at Kaiserswerth to become a nurse (Atwell, 1998).

Florence was an avid student and after three months was asked to publish an account of life at Kaiserwerth for English audiences (Atwell, 1998). Florence promoted Kaiserwerth as a place where women could get an education that would be useful. In 1846, a theme began to develop through correspondence with her father. She developed the idea that theory and practice were not congruent. She felt that in order for progress to be made, one had to be willing to take a chance and make some trials. These would serve as the stepping stones for others to follow (Atwell, 1998). This ideal became a key tenet of her nursing theory.

Development of Nightingale's theories

Florence Nightingale continued to promote her ideals about the women's intellectual need for knowledge and a place where these ideals could be practiced. From 1851 to 1854, she began supplementing the experience gained at Kaiserwerth by visiting hospitals throughout the United Kingdom and Europe (Atwell, 1998). She collected her notes and began systematizing her experiences. She analyzed and reflected upon hospital reports and governmental publications on public health. This material formed the basis for the own theories. Florence Nightingale's theories are a result of the synthesis of the information gained during this time period.

In 1853, she visited Lariboisiere Hospital in Paris. Here she was impressed by the wards, which were built on a pavilion plan (Atwell, 1998). The wards were designed to admit light and fresh air, while allowing 'noxious airs' or 'miasmas' to become dispersed between the long, narrow ward blocks (Atwell, 1998). This hospital had a reduced mortality rate, confirming her notions about 'miasmas' (Atwell, 1998).

Nightingale's work at Lariboisiere developed into her theory that disease arose spontaneously in dirty, enclosed spaces. Much work had been done in the United Kingdom by the Public Health agencies to lay sewers and provide clean water supplies. These reforms were key to the reduction of disease in the city… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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