Historical influences of nursing have always responded to their patient’s needs and will continue to do so. They responded to the needs of the wounded in conflict zones and military hospitals in the United States and abroad during times of war. Nurses organize community-based immunization and screening programs, treatment clinics, and health promotion activities when communities confront health care crises such as disease outbreaks or limited health care resources. When our patients are hurt, sick, or dying, they are at their most vulnerable.
Nurses are now actively involved in defining best practices in a range of areas, including skincare, pain treatment, nutritional management, and the care of people throughout their lives. Nurse researchers are pioneers in the advancement of nursing and other healthcare fields. Their work provides evidence for the practice, ensuring that nurses have the most up-to-date information to back up their decisions.
Knowing the history of the nursing profession improves your capacity to comprehend the discipline’s social and intellectual beginnings. Although it is impossible to cover all aspects of professional nursing history in this article, some of the most important nursing leaders and milestones are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Florence Nightingale was a famous nurse.
Florence Nightingale founded the first nursing philosophy focused on health maintenance and restoration in Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not (Nightingale, 1860). She considered nursing as having “charge of someone’s health,” based on her understanding of “how to place the body in such a position that it is free of sickness or recovers from disease” (Nightingale, 1860). In the same year, she established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, which was the first systematic program for nursing education.
Nightingale was the first nurse epidemiologist in practice. Poor sanitation was linked to cholera and dysentery in her statistical analysis. She enlisted during the Crimean War in 1853, and she was known as the “woman with the lamp” because she roamed the battlefield hospitals at night with her lamp. In the battlefield hospitals, sanitary, nutritional, and basic facilities were at best inadequate. She was eventually given the duty of organizing and enhancing sanitation facilities. As a result, the mortality rate at Scutari’s Barracks Hospital dropped from 42.7 percent to 2.2 percent in just six months (Donahue, 2011).
The Civil War to the beginning of the Twentieth Century
The Civil War, which lasted from 1860 to 1865, aided the development of nursing in the United States. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, cared for soldiers on the battlefields, cleaning their wounds, providing basic necessities, and comforting them in death. Mother Bickerdyke established ambulance services and went out at night to search for wounded troops on abandoned battlefields. Harriet Tubman was a member of the Underground Railroad and assisted in the emancipation of over 300 slaves (Donahue, 2011). Mary Mahoney was the first African-American nurse to receive formal training.
She was interested in the impact of culture on health care, and as a well-known nursing leader, she promoted cultural awareness and respect for all people, regardless of their background, race, color, or religion. In the late 1800s, hospital nursing grew in popularity. Nursing in the community, on the other hand, did not considerably increase until 1893, when Lillian Wald and Mary Brewster founded the Henry Street Settlement, which concentrated on the health needs of poor people living in New York City tenements (Donahue, 2011).
A push to build a scientific, research-based defined body of nursing knowledge and practice emerged in the early twentieth century. Nurses began to take on more complex and advanced tasks. In 1906, Mary Adelaide Nutting, the first nursing professor at Columbia Teacher’s College, was a driving force behind the expansion of nursing education into colleges (Donahue, 2011).
The nursing practice grew in tandem with nursing education, and the Army and Navy Nurse Corps were formed. Nursing specialty emerged in the 1920s. Graduate nurse-midwifery programs were established, and specialty-nursing organizations were founded in the second part of the twentieth century.
Importance of Nurses’ Self-Care
When you’re exhausted or don’t feel cared for, you can’t give completely engaged, compassionate care to others. Nurses are also affected by sadness and loss. Before a nurse has a chance to recover from an emotionally draining scenario, he or she is frequently confronted with another tough human story. Nurses working in acute care settings are frequently exposed to protracted, intense suffering, which can lead to feelings of irritation, anger, guilt, grief, or anxiety. Nursing students describe their initial apprehension and discomfort while encountering a dying patient, as well as feelings of sadness, anxiety, and pain.
Nurses who are exposed to sadness and loss on a regular, intense, or long-term basis are at risk of acquiring compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue refers to a combination of burnout and secondary traumatic stress (Potter et al., 2013a). It arises without warning and is generally the result of providing tremendous amounts of energy and compassion to persons who are suffering for an extended period of time, often without seeing improved patient outcomes (Potter et al., 2010). Secondary traumatic stress is the trauma that health care personnel go through as a result of watching and caring for individuals who have been through trauma. An oncology nurse who cares for cancer patients who are enduring long-term surgery and chemotherapy, or a spouse who sees his wife deteriorate over time due to Alzheimer’s disease, are two examples.
Burnout is a phenomenon that develops when a person’s perceived demands exceed his or her perceived resources (Potter et al., 2013a). Because of the nature of their employment, health care providers are frequently affected by this state of physical and mental tiredness. Giving of oneself in often demanding care circumstances can lead to emotional depletion, leaving a nurse irritated, restless, and unable to focus and engage with patients over time (Potter et al., 2013b). This frequently occurs when the nurse lacks social support, organizational demands influence staffing, and the nurse is unable to practice self-care. Compassion fatigue is characterized by emotions of hopelessness, a reduction in the ability to enjoy previously pleasurable activities, hypervigilance, and anxiety.
The Affordable Care Act and Rising Health Care Costs
The Affordable Care Act has an impact on how health care is paid for and delivered (see Chapter 2). In the future, there will be a greater focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and sickness management. The Affordable Care Act has an impact on how and where nursing care is given. Nursing services will be more prevalent in community-based settings. Nurses will be needed at additional community care centers, schools, and senior facilities as a result. Nurses will need to be better at assessing resources, identifying service gaps, and assisting patients in adapting to safely return to their communities.
Trends in Nursing
Nursing is a dynamic profession that changes as society and lifestyles change, health-care objectives and technologies change, and nurses change. The contemporary nursing concepts and definitions place a holistic focus on the requirements of the full person in all aspects, including health and sickness, as well as interactions with family and community. Furthermore, in all care settings, there is an increased awareness of patient safety.
The general population is now better aware of their healthcare demands, healthcare costs, and the prevalence of medical errors in healthcare facilities. Not simply on the basis of your education and experiences, but also on the regulations and procedures of health care facilities, your practice should be based on current evidence. By applying evidence-based practices, health care organizations can demonstrate their commitment to each health care stakeholder (e.g., patients, insurance companies, and government agencies) to reduce health care errors and increase patient safety (National Quality Forum, 2010). Furthermore, several hospitals are gaining Magnet Recognition, which acknowledges nursing performance (ANCC, 2014).