The Shift in Nursing

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In the 1800’s, nurses were those who had a desire to help those who fought in battles. They did not have the education that we have now, yet nurses redesigned how people viewed the profession. The educational system has vastly changed to give providers a much better understanding of how things like the plague have occurred. Moreover, evidence based practice in nursing has introduced the idea of good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of disease. Thus, lowering the rates of death from infection.

There were two nurses who allowed the nursing profession to shine. They were, Florence Nightingale and Catherine McAuley. Even though they did not know each other, they shared many things in common with one another. With their selfless nature, they have changed the way society views nurses and how medical professionals prevent the disease process.

Both of these women had a need to help others. Specifically, Florence Nightingale was brought up by a wealthy family who used their fortune to give back to the less fortunate in their community. As she grew older, Florence decided that she wanted to become a nurse. Even though her family had not approved initially, Florence was determined to fulfill her passion. Throughout her career, she became known as the “The Lady with the Lamp,” because she would check on her patients in the night. On the other hand, Catherine McAuley followed after her father by doing regular charitable gestures. Catherine had used the money that she received in the will to restore dignity and provide education to the poor. She taught kids how to needle and sold their products to her wealthy friends. This allowed the children to have some money and build character. Lastly, Catherine took care of the maidens who were being abused by their masters.

The second similarity that they shared was that they both used their wealth to help others. Florence’s family gave back to their community of Leeherst. Florence was also able to go to school to get the education that she needed in order to be a nurse. On the other hand, Catherine McAuley followed after her father by doing regular charitable gestures. She brought food and clothing to the poor. Catherine had also worked with the priest to give to the poor in the parish. Lastly, she knew wealthy people and helped poor children make money through her teachings.

Thirdly, they were both passionate and empathetic. Without their drive for caring for others, the nursing profession would not be what it is today. Since they were children, they both had the natural ability to empathize for someone else who is in a tough period of their life. They were able to use that passion to spark new ideas and provide better care to others. “The Sisters professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and merciful service to the poor, sick, and ignorant (in today’s understanding — service to those who are uneducated literally or in the ways of God),” (Paradis, Hart, O’Brien).

Next, Florence and Catherine were pioneers in their field. “Exploring Nightingale’s characteristics of EI such her confidence, determination, integrity and compassion, her teachings and beliefs can transcend time to mold successful nurses more than a century later,” (Magpantay-Monroe). She transformed the healthcare system by introducing the idea of hand hygiene. Because of her research, far less soldiers had died from the spread of infection. Catherine has paved the way of nursing by building the house of mercy. This facility was built to house and to educate women who were less fortunate.

Lastly, they paved there own paths throughout their lives. Florence and Catherine went against the grain and used their education to build a better future for the next generation to come. For instance, Catherine decided to use some of her wealth to proved food, clothing, and eduction for poor women. She wanted to do this for the fact that they would be raising their future generation. Along with this, she built a place for women to stay when others would not have bat an eye. Catherine stuck to her word and always looked for new opportunities to give to others. Florence decided to go against what society had told her and decided to work as an adult instead of raising children.

As you can see, Florence Nightingale and Catherine Mcauley were an invaluable part of the nursing profession. They have shown us how to be selfless, passionate, determined, and strong individuals. Through several heart ships, they never ceased to reach their goals. They have shown us that all healthcare providers are a team and that each player brings tremendous value.


Magpantay-Monroe, E. (2015). Exploring the emotional intelligence of florence nightingale. Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing, 2(2), 107.

Paradis, M. R., Hart, E. M., & O’Brien, M. J. (2017). The Sisters of Mercy in the Crimean War: Lessons for Catholic Health Care. The Linacre Quarterly, 84(1), 29–43.




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