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Florence Nightingale’s Conceptual Nursing Model

Contribution of Florence Nightingale to Nursing Practice Improvement

  1. Establishment of the nursing profession significance
  2. Raise of nursing standards through education (Pirani, 2016).
  3. Sanitary improvements for safer hospitals
  4. Establishment of effective nursing education
  5. Publishing of the first nursing textbook
  6. Introduction of patient records and statistics
  7. Separation of nursing and medicine.

Note: The conceptual model developed by Florence Nightingale, an outstanding nursing theorist, is based on her environmental theory of Nursing. In fact, Nightingale is considered to be a founder of contemporary nursing. Her ideas developed over a century ago are still applicable to nursing practice and have considerably improved nursing in general (Alligood, 2014). First of all, the activity of Florence Nightingale established the significance of the nursing profession. Before Nightingale, nursing was considered a low-status profession. Moreover, there was no specific training, and nurses had to learn through their own experience, which did not contribute positively to patient outcomes (Pirani, 2016).

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Thus, Nightingale’s concepts attracted attention to the increase in nursing education standards. In fact, she was the first theorist to issue a textbook for nursing students. Her conceptual model, which included cleanness as one of the constituents, had a positive impact on sanitary norms of hospitals and improved patient safety. For further increase in patient safety and to give effective tools for nursing practice, Nightingale introduced statistical evidence and keeping patient records, which also improved the quality of care. Finally, one of the concepts expressed by Nightingale was separation of nursing from medicine (Alligood, 2014). It did not mean that these two spheres had different goals, but she contributed to singling out nursing as an important profession and not a supplement of medicine.

Nightingale’s Conceptual Model: Improving Nursing Practice

  1. Explanation of significance of environment
  2. Ventilation, warmth, light, diet, cleanliness, and noise as environment components (Alligood, 2014)
  3. Introduction of patient-centered care
  4. Defining nursing as an art and a science
  5. Definition of patient-nurse-environment relationships
  6. Importance of meeting patient needs
  7. Increased role of nurses in patient care

Note: Nightingale’s conceptual model, deriving from her environmental theory, had a significant impact on nursing practice which is still evident today. The major components of this model included a patient, a nurse, and their surrounding which is now called environment. The concepts of this environment, in their turn, included “ventilation, warmth, light, diet, cleanliness, and noise” (Alligood, 2014, p. 63). Moreover. The relations between a nurse and a patient, a patient and environment, environment and a nurse, were also considered important. In can be concluded that the conceptual model presented by Nightingale introduced patient-centered care.

All the concepts of environment are aimed at the improvement of patient outcomes and are “necessary for proper nursing care and restoration/maintenance of health” (Alligood, 2014, p. 64). For example, proper ventilation was important for breathing clean and fresh air of suitable temperature that could also assist patient recovery. Another example of environment influencing the patient’s condition is cleanliness. According to Nightingale, “dirty environment (floors, carpets, walls, and bed linens) was a source of infection through the organic matter it contained” (Allogood, 2014, p. 64). Finally, the model increased the importance of a nurse as a professional. Previously, more attention was given top treatment provided by doctors and Nightingale attracted attention to care provided by nurses as a crucial component of patient’s recovery.


Alligood, M.R. (Ed.). (2014). Nursing theorists and their work. St. Luis, MS: Elsevier Mosby.

Pirani, S.S. (2016). Application of Nightingale’s theory in nursing practice. Annals of Nursing and Practice, 3(1), 1-3.

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