What young people can learn from Florence Nightingale

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Florence Nightingale with the empowered youth
Student nurses pose with an application interface they created in commemoration of the legacy of Florence Nightingale, mother of modern-day nursing and enabler of the environmental theory.

More than just the “the lady with a lamp”. Today and henceforth the spotlight is on Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing.

 

Earlier this year, I did a quick caricature of Florence Nightingale for a Fundamentals of Nursing practice course reflection paper. It got me thinking on how it was her environmental theory that defines the Nursing profession today as we combat #Coronavirus 

 

She was born into a rich British family of high social status in Florence, Italy (hence her name Florence). Her mother was against her choices to pursue Nursing School since at that time they believed Nurses to be the jobs of slaves and housewives. Florence chose a life that would serve humankind and her answer her vocation to end the suffering of others - she became a nurse. Through her efforts, she saved countless lives of wounded soldiers in the times of the Crimean war. She developed a theory in which the health of an individual is as important as the health of the environment. Clean air quality, healthful diets, and nurturing places - Florence was ahead of her time in sustaining the lives of people.

 

Imagine an alternate reality where Florence chose her privileged life than pursue Nursing. How we take action against the pandemic today might have been very different. This is why I am thankful that in our reality she existed - and her spirit lives on in our Frontliners. She is the perfect example of a woman in science who changed our perspective in life and healthcare. The cleaning of bed linens, the simple silence of noises in the hallways, and the simple adjusting of light exposure are all contributions that may seem small for others, but it is what helped save millions of lives. She is the lady with the lamp, because in the coldest and darkest of nights when the soldiers thought they lost everything - an image of a woman with the small candlelit fire gave hope. The very same hope we use today to imagine that future where we can feel safe, secured, and healthy. 

 

I always thought of myself as a different kind of student. I did not have the same academic prowess as other people have, but what I had was a great appreciation for everything people do for the community. Florence Nightingale may have died, but she feels more alive than ever. I believe the very attribute of SDG#4 Quality Education is not measured in high grades but seen through the actions of people. I quote one of the most impactful sayings I have heard in a while, “degrees matter, but serving with integrity is more impart”. Today, we see nurses who brave the frontlines: tired from handling hundreds of patients, worn out from hours of wearing humid hospital gowns and personal protective pieces of equipment, and worst - dying from what could have been preventable deaths if only we were prepared. We salute the fallen nightingales, may your deaths represent the demand for change we all want as we pursue a decade of action. We do not need to experience a pandemic for us to value the Nursing profession.

 

“To her [Florence Nightingale] chiefly I owed the awakening to the fact that sanitation is the supreme goal of medicine its foundation and its crown.” — Elizabeth Blackwell, a physician and a champion for women in medical education.

 

2020 is the year for Nurses and Midwives. This battle is yours just as it is the battle of doctors, scientists, and other jobs that are the backbone of our society! May we continue this fight as we pursue the 2030 agenda! Mabuhay ang mga Nars ng bayan! (Long live the nurses for the nation!)

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Streets to Schools officers pose in support of children's rights.
Streets to Schools is headed by student nurses, who are proud to apply what they learn in school for the benefit of young people, especially children.
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