As the profession of nursing became prevalent, nursing theories began to develop. Meleis (1997) defines nursing theory as a formulated theory that relates to existing nursing standards while proposing new concepts of nursing. These theories are used to direct nurses in their research and actions (as cited in George, 2002, p. 5). They are also used to predict outcomes of actions taken and to predict the patient’s response (George, 2002, p. 5). Nursing theories are a compilation of information used to provide a universal structure of how one should practice nursing (Parker, 2001, p. 8). Many leaders in the nursing field have developed nursing theories; but in this paper the theory of Florence Nightingale will be the focus of discussion. It
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She became known as “the lady with the lamp”, making nightly rounds long after other medical officers had stopped. By improving the quality of cleanliness she was able to significantly reduce the death rate of her patients. She returned to England as a nationwide heroine (Fee & Garofalo, 2010, para. 4). After her shocking experience caring for the British Army, Nightingale initiated a campaign to improve the quality of nursing in military hospitals. Nightingale’s relentless campaigning led to the formation of the Army Medical College. “Nightingale’s efforts gained public recognition of the need for trained nurses in hospitals and workhouses.” (Monterio, 1985 p. 183)
Spreading the Word
In order to share her opinions on improvement, Nightingale published Notes on Nursing: What it is, and what it is not (1860) (Selanders, 2010, p.84). In her works, she detailed her beliefs concerning the healthcare of the ill. One of her theories listed in the “Notes on Nursing”, is the Environmental Theory. This theory explains the necessary components in order to restore and maintain the health status of a patient. The goal is to manipulate the environment in such a way, that nature is able to take action (Selander, 2010, p. 86). This theory was without a doubt, a much needed addition to the already existing nursing theories.
Nightingale’s theory of environmental manipulation detailed her canons: (a) Health of Houses, (b) Ventilation and Warming, (c) Light, (d)