The Advancement of Nursing
How Nursing Practice Has Evolved
Throughout the history of nursing, changes have been made to accommodate changing situations and evolving healthcare needs. Compassion and empathy have always been important religious concepts in middle-aged nursing. One of the church’s tasks, according to King Richard III (2020), is to care for the sick. As a result, the majority of those caring for the injured and crippled were nuns. Because nursing has a long history, there are several tales of what it was like to be a nurse in the past. Florence Nightingale, a pioneer of contemporary nursing, made her debut in the late 1800s. Florence Nightingale made a significant contribution to the Crimean War by employing the concept of cleanliness and sanitation. During World War II, she and her nursing staff inspired the public by their service to British troops. For more than a century, her contributions to the field of nursing have been a source of pride and motivation for those who follow in her footsteps.
The Advancement of Nursing
Nursing education and practice have come a long way since Florence Nightingale’s time. Nursing education evolved during Florence Nightingale’s time into a science-based curriculum requiring a bachelor’s degree. Nursing education began as a diploma-based curriculum in the early 1900s. A registered nurse’s minimum education requirement has risen from an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree. As a result, the practice has changed to match educational progress. Nurses can now practice as nurse practitioners and hold positions of leadership commensurate with their qualifications. Furthermore, Steve Bailey (2021) underlined that technological breakthroughs in modern nursing have occurred. Patients’ documentation and charts are no longer kept on paper, as they once were. Finally, there have been significant advances in nursing education, practice, and technology.
King Richard III (2020). Retrieved from Nursing in Medieval Times. https://kriii.com/nursing-in-medieval- times/.
Steve Bailey (2021). How Technology has Changed the Role of Nursing. Nurse Journal. Retrieved from https://nursejournal.org/articles/technology-changing-nursing-roles/
Texas Woman’s University (2019). How Evolution of Nursing Profession Benefits Nurses and Patients Alike. Retrieved from https://onlinenursing.twu.edu/blog/evolution-of-nursing-profession.
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Nursing practice through history developed through an emerging need for health care. Prior to the 1800s, nursing was provided through religious orders, volunteers or women in the home. A pivotal historical influence was Florence Nightingale, whose work in during the Crimean War (1854-1856) and her development of infection control measures, became the basis for nursing practice much as we know it still today. Her book, Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What it Is Not (1859), expounded on the importance of light, clean water and a clean environment on patient’s health. In 1860 she founded the Nightingale Training School for Nurses (Whitney, 2018) . She was an influence in the United States as the Civil War presented an urgent need for the care of the wounded. During the Civil War, Dorthea Dix, who had been influential in reforming mental health care, met with Nightingale and Dix formed the Army Nursing Corps. In 1861 Dix helped form a nurse training program at Bellevue Hospital in New York (Lesniak, 2009).
World War I and World War II lead to an increased demand for nurses. Clara Barton (1821-1912), with no formal medical
training, founded the American Red Cross. Jane Delano (1862-1919) was the Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps and enlisted thousands of nurses in an effort to meet the dire need (Whitney, 2018). Nursing as a profession continued to evolve and expand into the twentieth century. In response to the nursing shortage, Mildred Montag developed the Associate Degree Nursing program in 1952, which provided a technical education over a 2-3 year time frame (Whitney, 2018). Today’s baccalaureate degree nursing program can be completed in four years, and is becoming the recommended standard for nurse education, particularly for those pursuing leadership or educational positions.
After the 1980s, with information access improving rapidly, nursing shifted toward a more comprehensive approach to the individual, utilizing critical skills and evidence-based practice. The development of nursing theories contributed to improvements in practice as well. Nursing organizations such as the American Nurses Association help unify nurses and encourage advancement in quality of care (Whitney, 2018). Nurses are no longer task-oriented providers, but thinkers, advocates, and educators.
Lesniak, R. G. (2009). Expanding the Role of
Women as Nurses During the American Civil War. Advances in Nursing Science, 32(1),
Whitney, S. (2018). History of professional nursing. In Grand Canyon University (Eds.), Dynamics in nursing: Art and science of professional practice. https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs430v/dynamics-in-nursing-art-and-science-of-professional-practice/v1.1/#/chapter/2