“A nurse must not be a scrubber. And a scrubber cannot be a nurse.” These words of wisdom as written by nursing’s founder are just a few throughout her life that have withstood the test of time.
Florence Nightingale wrote two notable works; Notes on Nursing and Notes on Hospitals. In Notes on Nursing, Nightingale says the following about the education of nurses, “I do not pretend to teach her how, I ask her to teach herself, and for this purpose I venture to give her some hints.” Actually, it’s her ‘hints’ that are timeless. Nightingale instinctively knew how to take care of person’s health. She knew sunlight, fresh-air, and clean conditions promoted health and wellness. In the design of hospitals, she insisted on large windows for every 2 patients. The purposes they served were for light, ventilation, and promoted reading in bed. Some would see this as a holistic therapy of sorts, but these natural remedies are core values in nursing.
Nightingale’s belief of the existence of miasma is what fueled her ideas to have good ventilation systems throughout the hospital. Little was known about microorganisms, but her instincts were correct. Check out this article in The Guardian, UK.
“Hair is the only material yet discovered fit for hospital mattresses.” What gave Nightingale the basis for this? Her own observation and I suspect her knowledge as a statistician helped her keep records that supported her observation. Obviously, hair mattresses have gone out of style along with the iron bedside tables, but one thing is for certain, Nightingale’s foundation for nursing and hospital design is still transformative. We should all take a look back into our nursing history to restore the very principles that made the profession respectable and significant.
What’s your view? Do you think Florence Nightingale was ahead of her time?
Some final thoughts…Florence Nightingale believed and endorsed the idea that “Every night-nurse and every ward-attendant, scrubber included, must sleep and live and be entirely attached to the hospital in which she serves.” Interesting thoughts, indeed!
— Mary Arbogast CST, RN, BS, CNOR, nursing and healthcare outreach coordinator at Alvernia University