Notes on Nursing by Florence Nightingale

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is not a traditional review; however, I wanted to draw attention to this interesting little volume. Florence Nightingale is the stereotypical nurse figure, and with good reason. She was a voracious researcher, constantly making improvements in the hospitals she worked in. She documented strategies to improve health, designed new plans for hospitals to make patient care most effective, and passionately kept track of deaths and illnesses, compiling hundreds of statistics. She truly is the mother of modern nursing as an art that requires critical thinking and active decision-making, rather than a handmaiden position of mechanically following the doctor's orders.

This book was actually written for women who cared for the sick in their homes, rather than the hospital nurse. Nightingale describes several different strategies to improve the health of the sick patient, such as allowing air into the room, making sure they have something interesting to occupy their minds, and keeping obnoxious visitors from vexing the patient. Many of these strategies are now common practice. However, it was interesting to read Nightingale's reasoning. She also could get rather sharp and sarcastic, pointing out the obvious necessities of such actions as cleaning human waste from the chamber pot under the bed, feeding the patient at regular intervals, and not making unnecessary visits to the room when the patient was sleeping.

While this book may not appeal to the general public, I think it is a must-read for medical professionals, especially nurses. Not only is it interesting to see how far the profession has come, it is also inspiring to read the words of such a passionate and knowledgeable forerunner in the field. It is an interesting piece of history - I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it while still completing my education.


  1. What an interesting book, I had no idea she ever published anything. It's great how ideas that were new in her time are now common practise, it shows good progress.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting read. Adding it! :-)

  3. This was recommended to us as "extra" reading while I was in nursing school, but I think I was so overwhelmed with school and working at the time that I didn't want to think of reading for pleasure. :(



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