From ensuring the proper treatment of patients to advocating and educating the public on health issues, nursing is essential in safeguarding public health.
12 May is observed every year as International Nurses’ Day, and is also the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
Nightingale was a war nurse who worked in Crimea, born on 12 May 1820 in Florence, Italy.
She was born into a wealthy family, and as per tradition, she visited sick bays on several occasions.
When the war began in 1853, she was eager to assist injured soldiers, but she found the hospital environment unpleasant to patients.
There were not enough medicine, the walls and beds were dirty, the toilets were unhygienic, and there was no nutritious food for recuperating soldiers.
She concluded that patients were dying more due to infections than as a result of their injuries. Hence, Nightingale and the team started cleaning the environment and providing patients with nutritious meals.
Furthermore, the hospital was dark, but this didn’t hinder their delivery of nursing care to patients.
She always carried her lamp at night on her way to render care to the patients. The soldiers then gave her the nickname ‘the Lady of the Lamp’.
Florence was also an advocate for the patients. She went to Queen Victoria and aired her disappointment over their suffering.
The queen facilitated the training of medical doctors to treat patients. However, Nightingale still felt there was a gap, and introduced a nurses’ training school.
She selected women with good school marks to become nursing educators.
She developed various ethical principles and theories which remains in practice to date. Her various roles contributed to the development of nursing into a profession.
As an administrator, educator and researcher, Nightingale’s contributions moved nursing from a disrespected profession to one of more autonomy and evidence-based practice.
Therefore, this day is significant – not only to celebrate, but also to remind us of the meaning of nursing and its significance.
It is crucial for nurses to mould themselves into modern-day Nightingales.
This day can be observed by nurses doing something significant for patients, such as ensuring their environment is clean, or that they are fed, and that their medication is administered.
Nurses can observe this day by advocating their patients’ rights, even if it involves being hated by certain individuals.
This day should also give nurses the courage to work under unfavourable conditions to save lives. It ought to be motivation enough not to give up.
Nurses, look to God and to Florance nightingale, the role model of nursing
The challenges she has endured, we shall endure if we are determined to be caring and to save lives.
International Nurses’ Day was this year observed under the theme ‘Nurses Make a Difference: Anytime, Anywhere, Always’.
Therefore, nurses should make a difference by teaching, promoting, and preventing diseases anytime, anywhere, always.
Ndaikile Rainhold Vatilifa