Florence Nightingale is a renowned English theorist and the founder of contemporary nursing. She was born in the 1820s and died in 1910. Regarding accomplishments, Nightingale served as a social worker who played a huge role in attending to injured soldiers during the Crimean War. Her main task involved training other volunteers on how to take care of wounded people in the most suitable environments.
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According to Zborowsky (2014), she laid the foundation of the first school of nursing that was established in London in 1890. Today, the world celebrates her by awarding the Florence Nightingale Medal to the most outstanding nursing professionals. This honor is the highest accolade that one can achieve in nursing. She advocated for social reforms that resulted in healthcare improvements in Britain. Concerning her career, Florence Nightingale had a passion for writing. Specifically, she was a qualified statistician (Zborowsky, 2014).
Regarding her research efforts, she wrote materials that educated the public on how to deal with patients suffering from some diseases, including ways of preventing and curing various ailments. She applied her statistical skills in nursing by introducing the concept of infographics, which is applied widely in the field of modern medicine. As argued in this paper, the environmental theory should be encouraged in the nursing field due to its applicability to clinical practice, research, and contemporary healthcare.
Analysis of Basic Components of the Environmental Theory
Nightingale’s environmental theory has four major concepts, which include the environment, the person, health, and nursing practice. According to Polivka and Chaudry (2018), the environmental concept indicates physical surroundings that can affect the growth of organisms while at the same time restraining illnesses or worsening patients’ health conditions. According to Nightingale, the state of the physical environment influences clinical nursing decisions. She encouraged nurses to handle patients under the most appropriate environmental conditions to curb infections and improve their recovery processes.
Nightingale described a suitable setting as one that consisted of fresh air and water, good drainage systems, natural lighting, and hygiene (Polivka & Chaudry, 2018). Most of the illnesses can be suppressed by ensuring that patients are placed in high-quality environmental conditions. On the contrary, patients’ health can deteriorate when subjected to poor environmental settings. According to Pirani (2016), Nightingale’s theory regards a high-quality environment as one that enhances patients’ recovery processes.
The concept of a person in the environmental theory refers to the patient who is a crucial factor in the nursing field. Nightingale viewed a patient as a precious being in need of human care to survive. She recognized the way patients needed to be taken care of by other people to facilitate their healing (Pirani, 2016). Therefore, according to Butts and Rich (2014), nurses need to make patients feel comfortable when receiving medical services. The environmental theory expects healthcare givers to build a healthy rapport with patients to boost cooperation during their stay in hospitals.
Additionally, Nightingale presented the concept of health in nursing as highly dependent on nature. The environmental theory appreciates that nursing practice cannot cure patients. Instead, it regards health as a naturally given condition whereby nurses act as facilitators of the curing process. Therefore, as Zborowsky (2014) reveals, the role of caregivers is to ensure that patients are in the most suitable environment that enhances their recovery rates. The nursing profession is concerned with caregiving and handling patients with dignity (Butts & Rich, 2014). Overall, the environmental theory focuses on external factors that contribute to patients’ therapeutic processes.
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Application of the Theory in Clinical Practice
Patients’ recovery is highly dependent on the prevailing environmental conditions. Pirani (2016) is a qualified nurse who analyzed the conditions of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using Nightingale’s theory. According to research findings, the environmental theory is applicable to today’s healthcare (Pirani, 2016). Leftover meals, closed windows, open washroom doors, and unemptied containers are found to play a significant role in the deterioration of patients’ well-being.
Another study by Medeiros, Enders, and Lira (2015) finds Nightingale’s theory pertinent to the present-day nursing profession. These authors use the model established by Johnson and Webber to establish whether Nightingale’s environmental theory has an impact on the nursing occupation. According to them, this theoretical framework is a historical landmark that has been practically proven and used as a foundation for nursing explorations (Medeiros et al., 2015). Nightingale’s theory meets the condition of simplicity due to its clear and understandable nature. Particularly, non-professionals find no contradictions when utilizing some or all of its tenets described earlier.
The Relevance of the Environmental Theory
Nightingale’s environmental theory is applicable to her life. For instance, as earlier mentioned, Nightingale was a social worker and a volunteer during the Crimean war. According to Butts and Rich (2014), this theorist worked closely with wounded soldiers and volunteers whom she taught how to manage patients’ conditions. Soldiers are usually wounded during ambush and battlefronts.
In line with views by Hussain (2017), she had to create the most favorable environment that could allow injured police officers to heal, despite the prevailing harsh conditions associated with their occupation. As such, Nightingale evacuated them to safer environments (Butts & Rich, 2014). She also relied on the nursing concept of her theory to assemble clinical officials who could attend to patients injured at the battlefront to save their lives before evacuation.
The number of injured people increases rapidly during combat (Polivka & Chaudry, 2018). This situation leads to congestion in the available medical centers. As Zborowsky (2014) reveals, such overcrowding ends up deteriorating the environment in these health facilities. Nightingale was aware that a poor environment is hazardous to wounded patients. Therefore, she applied her theory by addressing the need for subjecting the injured to hygienic conditions to enhance their recuperation during the war.
Relevance to Modern Healthcare
The environmental theory influences modern healthcare operations. Present-day medical facilities endeavor to satisfy environmental requirements specified in Nightingale’s theory before they can be licensed to offer services (Butts & Rich, 2014).
For instance, according to Rahim (2013), they need to have a good drainage system that does not allow any blockage of wastes in these facilities. In addition, they have to be fitted with large windows to allow fresh air and natural light. Many contemporary medical centers have access to fresh water supply. On the other hand, nurses are mandated with ensuring proper hygiene in all wards. Currently, medical practitioners and caregivers are taught the contribution of the environment to patients’ overall recovery rates (Medeiros et al., 2015). Hence, their role is to ensure that all sick people are kept in the most appropriate healthcare environment.
Application to Research
Nightingale’s theory has been quoted in many scholarly works. Studies by Medeiros et al. (2015) and Pirani (2016) have been done with the aim of proving the applicability of Nightingale’s theory to research. As earlier mentioned, Nightingale is the founder of the modern nursing profession. According to Medeiros et al. (2015), she made nursing a distinct career by emphasizing that health requires nurses to manipulate patients’ surroundings when they are receiving medical services. Nightingale’s theory continues to form part of many scholarly works, especially studies that examine factors, which influence patients’ recovery levels (Pirani, 2016). Nonetheless, more nursing explorations are required because no consensus has been reached regarding the concept of nature and the environment as presented in Nightingale’s theory.
Strengths of the Environmental Theory
The environmental theory of nursing is universal and, consequently, not limited to geographical locations and time. Hence, it has the strength of being applied anywhere around the globe. In the modern world, environmental conditions are paramount to the health status of a person. Therefore, this theory has also been praised due to its capacity to encourage the availability of good environmental conditions for patients to recover quickly (Polivka & Chaudry, 2018).
Moreover, this theory forms the basis of ethics in the contemporary nursing profession. Maintaining a good environmental condition for patients requires nurses and medical practitioners to handle them with decorum, which implies the idea of rapport emphasized in Nightingale’s theory (Zborowsky, 2014). It has also been applied widely due to its potential of boosting healthy relationships between patients and nurses as a way of enhancing their healing processes.
Limitations of the Environmental Theory
Nevertheless, Nightingale’s environmental theory is subject to personal moral authority. It has been criticized for depicting health as highly dependent on external environmental conditions. Therefore, the idea of nurses manipulating environmental conditions to get the desired results in the health of a patient may be fruitless if other internal factors are overlooked. For instance, patients’ mental well-being may determine their rate of healing.
It also has a limitation of forcing nurses to work under supervision to ensure that they keep patients under good environmental conditions (Polivka & Chaudry, 2018). This theory further limits the role of nurses to monitoring hospitals’ external environments, as opposed to working collaboratively with doctors to manage other conditions such as stress and anxiety that hinder patients’ healing processes.
Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2014). Philosophies and theories for advanced nursing practice (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Hussain, S. A. (2017). Nightingale’s theory and its application to pediatric nursing care. Journal on Nursing, 7(2), 38-42. Web.
Medeiros, A. B. A., Enders, B., & Lira, A. (2015). The Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory: A critical analysis. Escola Anna Nery, 19(3), 518-524. Web.
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Pirani, S. S. A. (2016). Application of Nightingale’s theory in nursing practice. Annals of Nursing and Practice, 3(1), 1040.
Polivka, B. J., & Chaudry, R. V. (2018). A scoping review of environmental health nursing research. Public Health Nursing, 35(1), 10-17. Web.
Rahim, S. (2013). Clinical application of Nightingale’s environmental theory. Journal on Nursing, 3(1), 43-46.
Zborowsky, T. (2014). The legacy of Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory: Nursing research focusing on the impact of healthcare environments. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 7(4), 19-34. Web.