Hippocrates first theorized the practice of health care in the fifth century B.C. During the Middle Ages Catholic monks practiced early forms of nursing through caring for the sick and ill of Europe. During the 17th century nursing developed and increasingly became associated with the downtrodden members of society, such as prostitutes. Nurses during this period gained a poor reputation and were generally regarded as unreliable. It wasn’t until Florence Nightingale in the 19th century that nursing began to take on the shape of its contemporary form. This essay considers the historical development of nursing from the time of Florence Nightingale, and examines various elements related to the nursing profession.
In the early 19th century the perception of nursing shifted dramatically as Florence Nightingale accepted a position as a nurse. While nurses had previously been associated with lower class individuals, Nightingale was a well-educated woman with a solid background. Her contributions to the nursing profession were substantial in shifting it to respectable levels. In 1853 Theodore Fliedner made further advancements. Fliedner established hospitals wherein there were stringent requirements for nursing professionals. This improved the reputation of nurses and led to the establishment of the British Institute of Nursing Sisters. The next significant advancements in nursing occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1901 New Zealand became the first country to regulate nurses nationally. The United States would follow suit in 1903. During World War Two the nursing profession would again experience significant changes. During this period the war effort increasingly demanded that the bedside skills of nurses be expanded to include a new array of skills. As a result of these increased needs, the profession of nursing expanded with increasing amount of nurses being required to have advanced medical training. During this period nursing became increasingly organized as the war effort demanded improved levels of efficiency to treat the large amounts of wounded soldiers. Throughout the remainder of the 20th century nursing would advance in terms of both the profession and the theoretical science. In terms of the profession increasing amounts of licensure and educational options emerge further increasing the skills and understandings of nurses. For instance, the United States now offers both a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degree in nursing. In terms of nursing theory the 20th century would witness the development of a great variety of nursing theories (Barnum 1998). Today they are broadly categorized under broad nursing theory, that considers the practice of nursing as a whole, and mid-range nursing theories that focus on specific aspects of nursing (Barnum 1998). It’s the collection of these elements that make nursing the complex profession it is today. When considering nursing one of the main elements are the divisions between nursing as a profession and nursing as a science. The nature of the nursing profession is the actual occurrence of health care for individuals in hospitals or situations of medical need. The nursing profession is governed by a social contract wherein nurses are bound by ethical responsibilities. Within the profession there are varying degrees of nurses, based on education and licensing. For instance, there are both Licensed Practical nurses (LPN) and Registered nurses (RN); both of these individuals have different nursing responsibilities. Conversely, the nursing science is a comprehensive approach to nursing that develops theories related to advancing and improving nursing practice. Indeed, nursing science has had a significant impact on other disciplines, such as philosophy, psychology and the social sciences. Within this context of understanding, nursing theories have examined many issues related to interpersonal interaction and human wellness. For instance, Henderson’s need theory advances notions philosophy and psychology