Nurses are considered as very important members of a medical surgical or rehabilitation team. They literally take care of the patients, administer basic to slightly complex healthcare procedures in the absence of an attending physician, and perhaps their most appropriate job description is they make the patients’ stay at the hospital less troublesome and in fact, worthwhile. Nursing practice just like any other health profession has a rich and long history. When we say history, we are actually talking about the different transition of events that happened in the past which lead us to the present time. The objective of this paper is to provide a brief but comprehensive discussion of the different important transition of events that happened in the history of nursing practice, focusing on the ones that significantly helped shape the nursing practice as we know today.
Nursing Practice during the Age of Antiquity (7th Century B.C. to 300 A.D.)
The age of antiquity can be perfectly described as the exact opposite of today’s age which is characterized by the digitalization of things or the age of information technology. Nurses did not actually exist during this period. Instead, they were referred to as caregivers who usually have a social responsibility of taking care of the sick and the disabled. Often, the decision whether or not an individual can be a caregiver or not is made long before he had the ability to pick a choice. A common practice among primitive tribes is to base the determination of an individual’s innateness to caregiving practice on different signs such as skin marks, the weather when that particular child was born, and other factors that are not governed by man. Nurse and Caregiver roles were more often than not assigned to female societal members mainly because they were experts in taking care of infants and toddlers. It is also in this stage wherein the nursing science had been closely-related to anthropology and social sciences.
Nursing Practice from the middle Ages (476 to 1500s) to the Age of Industrial Evolution (18th to 19th centuries)
It was during the Middle Ages that the world population severely decreased because of the presence of various unidentified and most of the time, untreatable diseases. People’s lives primarily centered on religion and Christianity. In fact, the wake of the Protestant Reformation, and the Domination of the Roman Catholic Church coexisted during this period. Nevertheless, because of continuous surge of various diseases, healthcare and medicine, particularly the nursing practice was never left out. Because of the invention of papers and various writing materials, the organization of the execution of different available nursing practices dramatically improved. Before these periods, nurses relied on the oral transmission of nursing knowledge, concepts and principles in making the next generation knowledgeable in medicine, healthcare, and nursing practice as well. Because of the availability of different recording mediums, nurses first learned how to record data from their patient and basically anything that could be relevant to their practice. Still, society mindset during this period dictates that women will always be more suitable in taking care of sick patients than men.
Florence Nightingale and the Development of Nursing as a Profession
Nursing practice would not have been developed into something that it is today if not for Florence Nightingale. Florence’s family was an elite member of the society. She and her brother were well-educated in the fields of philosophy, Greek, Latin, and Basic Sciences. Education among upper and middle-classes were of utmost important during this period and so they were obliged to be as educated and literate as they can be. During Florence’s existence in Europe, a war broke out between Russia, and the combined forces of England, France and Turkey. Many people suffered from battle injuries and Florence saw the dramatic increase in the people of their country’s mortality rate.
However, upon observation, he noticed that some 41% of the total English soldiers die both as a result of battle and pathologic injuries. Upon reviewing several cases, she came up with the conclusion that more English soldiers actually die from health complications rather than from battle-injuries. She recorded data and planned for an intervention to decrease the mortality rate of English soldiers as a result of health injuries—to clean, scrub, and improves the ventilation and the amount of sunlight that enters English soldiers’ quarters, because she believed that dusts and dirt were the source of the disease that killed a huge percentage of England’s soldiers. To her surprise, the mortality rate of the English soldiers decreased dramatically and she was able to record all of that, from the results, to the analysis. This event is actually considered as the birth of the modern-day evidenced-based practice. Florence Nightingale’s contribution to the development of modern-day nursing practice does not end there. Using her and her family and friends’ political influence, and the fame and public influence that she obtained from being able to help treat the English soldiers, she established the Nightingale School of Nursing. This particular nursing institution differ from older and common nursing institutions during that time in a way that students from the Nightingale School of Nursing were subjected not only to theoretical knowledge about nursing practice, which was the trend among nursing institutions during that time, but also to clinically-relevant and real clinical experiences. During this period, being educated was of utmost importance. Nurses were already required in this period to undergo some form of training from a reputable nursing institution before being allowed to publicly practice nursing as a profession or vocation.
Modern Day Nursing
Modern Day Nursing is basically the result of all events that are relevant to nursing care and practice that happened in the past. Now, nurses, after finishing the entire nursing curriculum for their particular institution, they will have to pass a nursing licensure examination first before they can practice nursing as a profession. Nevertheless, nursing practice is a discipline that continues and will continue to develop. This could be best evidenced by the formation of more and more nursing associations, sub-specializations in the nursing profession, and the worldwide increase in demand for nurses and caregivers.
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