BOD Liaison's Message
Ode to Flo—The Original NPD Practitioner
A Note from Stephanie Zidek, MSN, RN, ACGNS-BC, NEA-BC, NPD-BC
Every May, in concert with Florence Nightingale’s birthday, nurses are recognized for their vast contributions and positive impact on patients, communities, and each other during National Nurses Month. This year’s theme, Nurses Make a Difference, honors all nursing roles, including those in the nursing professional development (NPD) specialty.
I consider Florence Nightingale one of the original NPD practitioners, or if you will, the O-NPD. She embodied many of today’s NPD roles throughout her career. Florence led a troop of over 30 female nurses to Uskudar (Scutari), Turkey, during the Crimean War. The hospital conditions were unimaginable—urine and feces saturated the floors, rodents and bugs were living amongst the patients, and basic supplies were limited, including bandages, soap, and water (BBC, 2022). Under her careful watch and leadership, the mortality rate fell from 40% to 2% within six months following her arrival (BBC). Based on her wartime experiences, Florence was inspired to examine England’s hospital conditions and the British Army’s state of health. She found that up to 90% of all army deaths were due to preventable diseases vs. battle-based causes (History, 2022). She served as a change agent by sharing the importance of patient care and safe hospital environments, which Queen Victoria and Prince Albert supported due to compelling data and scientific inquiry (Alexander, 2019). In fact, many contribute Florence as the initial developer of the pie chart (Rogers, 2010).
As she continued her career, she assumed the learning facilitator and mentor roles for incoming nurses. In 1860, four years after the Crimean War, the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas Hospital in London, England opened. The school included a year of clinical experience in the wards, courses and lecturing, and two years of work experience in a nearby hospital (Alexander, 2019).
She was a strong advocate for the profession and enhanced quality care at the bedside throughout her career. The United States frequently consulted her on properly managing field hospitals during the Civil War. Additionally, she lobbied for famine relief and improved sanitary conditions throughout India in the 1880s to reduce morbidity and mortality (BBC, 2022).
Her lessons live on in over 200 books, pamphlets, and reports she authored (Reynolds Finley Historical Library, 2022). Many consider her the pioneer of modern-day nursing. She was the inspiration for the first celebrated National Nurses Week in 1954 to mark the observance of the 100th anniversary of her mission to Crimea. More recently, she was the inspiration for the move from one week to a celebrated month (ANA, n.d.).
As we celebrate our great profession and one another this Nurses Month, I encourage you all to channel Florence's spirit and pursuit of patient excellence. I leave you with the words of Florence by way of The Nightingale Pledge:
Before God and those assembled here, I solemnly pledge;
To adhere to the code of ethics of the nursing profession;
To co-operate faithfully with the other members of the nursing team and to carryout faithfully and to the best of my ability the instructions of the physician or the nurse who may be assigned to supervise my work;
I will not do anything evil or malicious and I will not knowingly give any harmful drug or assist in malpractice.
I will not reveal any confidential information that may come to my knowledge in the course of my work.
And I pledge myself to do all in my power to raise the standards and prestige of the practical nursing;
May my life be devoted to service and to the high ideals of the nursing profession. (ANA, n.d., Modern Pledge).
Happy Nurses Month!
Stephanie Zidek, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, NEA-BC, NPD-BC
Board of Director
Association for Nursing Professional Development
Alexander, K. L. (2019). Florence Nightingale. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/florence-nightingale
American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Flo’s corner. https://nursesmonth.org/flos-corner/
BBC. (2022). Florence Nightingale: Saving lives with statistics. https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/florence-nightingale-saving-lives-with-statistics/zjksmfr
History. (2022). Florence Nightingale. https://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/florence-nightingale-1#florence-nightingale-and-nursing
Reynolds Finley Historical Library. (2022). The life of Florence Nightingale. https://library.uab.edu/locations/reynolds/collections/florence-nightingale/life
Rogers, S. (2010, August 13). Florence Nightingale data journalist: Information has always been beautiful. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/aug/13/florence-nightingale-graphics