The profession of nursing has evolved over time along with social, political, technological, and other environmental factors to which healthcare practice had to adapt. In addition, public perception of nurses is not as it was in antiquity or even half a century ago. Though the importance of caretakers’ role was recognized in many cultures and societies worldwide, nursing was not regarded as an independent profession for a long period. Moreover, nursing services also were regarded as supplementary to medical practices carried out by physicians and surgeons. However, the range of professional activities performed by nurses has drastically expanded and, nowadays, they are required to have extensive expertise and well-developed skills to meet a great variety of patient needs and interests. Today, nurses are perceived as competent specialists whose main duty remains as it was since prehistoric times – to promote the well-being of individuals and communities. It is valid to say that nurses themselves played a significant role in shifting public perception of their profession. Based on real-life examples, it will be demonstrated in this discussion how present-day practitioners can contribute to change as well.
Florence Nightingale was one of the most influential practitioners in the history of the nursing profession and she was actively involved in the advancement of nurses’ roles. For example, when working in the Barracks Hospital during the Crimean war, she took responsibility to modify the hospital environment to promote faster recovery of the wounded soldiers while others did not show much enthusiasm about it (Cherry & Jacob, 2016). Nightingale also introduced innovations in terms of organizational and care practices, such as infection control and systems for transcribing doctors’ orders (Cherry & Jacob, 2016). Moreover, during her work, the nurse collected data on patients that she consequently used to advocate for the better quality of care for British soldiers (Cherry & Jacob, 2016). Overall, Nightingale is a perfect example of a professional who was passionate about her work and who utilized her capabilities to serve the needs of others. It can be argued that following her example, each nurse should involve in organizational improvement, advocacy, and research practices not only in order to foster a more positive public perception of nursing but also to meet a high standard of performance set up by Nightingale and deliver excellent services.
The key points in the report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) also emphasize the importance of nursing in the improvement of the health system and patients’ lives. The report indicates that nurses should “practice to the full extent of their education and training,” “achieve higher levels of education and training,” and collaborate with other healthcare practitioners (University of Saint Mary, n.d., para. 1-2). Besides providing practitioners with guidelines to follow, the IOM indicates the barriers to better performance that exist in the present-day professional environment. For instance, disparities in nursing scope-of-practice in different specialties and types of settings are identified in the report as one of the essential limiting factors to better work (the University of Saint Mary, n.d.). Based on this knowledge, nurses may research the problem further, gather necessary information and consequently lobby for policy change that would lead to the elimination of the given and other obstacles.
Overall, with the right mindset and commitment to their work, individual practitioners can make a considerable contribution to the improvement of the nursing profession. To do so, they can perform the roles of leaders, educators, advocates, and so forth. At the same time, a nurse can make the change by simply striving to do her or his best at the workplace every day and be attentive to patients and their distinct needs.
Cherry, B., & Jacob, S. R. (2016). Contemporary nursing: Issues, trends, & management (7th ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.
University of Saint Mary. (n.d.). The Institute of Medicine’s “Future of Nursing” report: Key messages. Web.