Historical Timeline of Nursing


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Historical Timeline of Nursing

Beginning of the Historical Timeline of Nursing

The formation of the Daughters of Charity (also known as the Sisters of Charity) took place in 1633 by a widow named Louise de Marillace, and the French priest Vincent de Paul. This religious organization’s mission was to assist poor people by charitable contributions of self. Religious women during the 1600s were usually behind closed monastery walls to perform religious prayer and works; until St. Vincent de Paul came along to change everything. St. Vincent’s vision was to recruit young women to perform a variety of charitable works including nursing and teaching the poor in their homes. The concept of The Daughters of Charity grew at a remarkable pace throughout France and Europe, and even spread across vast continents. Eventually, the calling of these women was to care for wounded soldiers in many battles and wars earning the nickname of Angels of the Battlefield. St. Vincent could not know his foresight laid a foundation to modern nursing (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2010).

The Crimean War is the focal point for the beginning of the history of Florence Nightingale, a commanding pioneer in the field of nursing. Sympathy for injured soldiers compelled Florence Nightingale to sign up as a volunteer in the Crimean War. According to The Hutchinson Unabridged Ecyclopedia (2009), this English nurse “reduced the Crimean War hospital death rate from 42% to 2%” (p. 1).

Timiras (1998) paints Florence Nightingale full of zest and adept at accomplishing goals. Nightingale cultivated a process for cleanliness that incorporated nurses to wash hands between patients and after meals, arranging to obtain needed clean supplies, and general cleanliness of the facilities housing the wounded soldiers. Nightingale’s plight for cleanliness was responsible for shaping the history of nursing.

Florence Nightingale became bedridden due to an illness contracted in Crimea. Illness would not prevail, however. Nightingale’s obvious obsession with healthcare reform would compel her to write the famous Notes on Nursing in 1859. This book was the first textbook specifically for use in the teaching of nurses and was translated into many languages. Ellis (2010) notes that the book is a reflection of the major accomplishments of Florence Nightingale which included “the organization of nursing training, in hospital planning, public and military health, and an effective collection of medical statistics” (p. 1).

Historical Timeline of Nursing (underlined portion not included in this paper): According to Smith (1993), the best part of Nightingale’s reflection is “nursing observations, relationships between medical and nursing staff, differences between nursing and midwifery, infectious diseases, food, management and noise” (p. 1). Another intriguing aspect is the mention of using birds and dogs as therapeutic devices for the sick. Pet therapy’s introduction into medicine came along over one hundred years later.

Historical Timeline of Nursing (underlined portion not included in this paper): In 1860, Nightingale’s School and Home for Nurses was founded in London. After a debilitating illness, Nightingale forged ahead with concepts learned during the Crimean War to help reform healthcare. The formation of the school was the hallmark of presenting the nurse as a true professional to the world (Cook & Webb, 2002).

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