Nursing theory Florence Nightingale Essay

Nursing theory: Florence Nightingale
Nursing theory refers to a system of well-structured concepts based on knowledge that defines a given scope of nursing practice. The specific scope in a theory defines nursing and the specific roles of nurses as well as detailing reasons for the existence of these tasks. There are numerous nursing theories that give guidance to nurses in their everyday practice among them being Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory. These theories facilitate nurses to understand their patient needs thereby providing the best available intervention. This paper aims at looking Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory and its effectiveness in nursing practice.
Florence was nurse theorist who lived between 12th may 1820 until her demise in 13th august 1910. She played an essential role in development of the modern day nursing through her major environmental theory. The Nightingale’s environmental theory described nursing as an act of using the environment to facilitate the recovery process of a patient. The theory therefore involves the nurse configuring the environmental settings to facilitate gradual process of patient’s healing. In her theory, Nightingale noted the need of influencing the health factors associated with the patient’s intermediate environment which may affect their physiologic and biologic development in the process of healing (Rana, 2021). It is through her book, “Notes on Nursing: What it is, what it is Not” that Nightingale described the environmental theory in relation to nursing practice. Nursing theory Florence Nightingale Essay

There are various concepts and sub-concepts that have been utilized in Nightingale’s environmental theory. The first concept is nursing. Nightingale described nursing as the practice of maintaining the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon their recovery. She further stated that nursing as a practice makes proper use of various environmental factors such as cleanliness, light, quiet, fresh air, warmth as well as proper diet to facilitate the process of patient’s healing (Gilbert, 2020). Human beings is the second concept where Nightingale only defines the relationship between human beings and their environment. Environment is the other concept where she mainly concentrates on physical environment. Nightingale put more emphasis of the model of community health in which every aspect surrounding human beings should be considered to determine their health. Health is the other key concept in the theory. According to Nightingale, we have no knowledge concerning health except by experience and observation. She further describes the aim of nursing activities as focusing on the health of the client.
There are various sub concepts that Nightingale also included in her environmental theory. Health of houses is the first sub concept. She stated that the effect that badly constructed hospitals has for the sick is equivalent to the effect that a bad constructed house has to the healthy. Ventilation and warming are also key sub concepts. Nightingale was focused on noxious air and foul odors where she had a belief a person utilizing her own air would become or remain sick. She also critiqued fumigations because of its offensive source which must be removed. Nightingale also emphasized on room temperatures. She stated that temperatures should be controlled by ventilations and lighting fires to ensure that the patient does not experience too much or too low temperatures (Rana, 2021). Light is another sub concept where Nightingale noted that patients required light and specifically direct sunlight. Noise is the other sub concept where she stated that a patient should not be waked accidentally during their first part of sleep. She also noted whispering and long conversations as cruel and irritating to the patient. Some other key concepts in the theory include bed and bedding, personal cleanliness, chattering hopes and advice, nutrition and taking food, environmental factors among other social factors.
In the current world environment that we are living today, we are faced by harsh environmental conditions. Some examples of global health issues that we are currently facing include threats from nuclear radiation, global warming, and environmental calamities and pollution from human activities. It is from such experiences that Nightingales model seem ideal. Nightingales concept of fresh air provision to patients is in question in relation to today’s effects of industrialization. In relation to the ventilation concept, fresh air is not always beneficial to all patents. The natural air from ventilations has impurities which may negatively affect the patient especially when they have open wounds. In relation to light provision, the destruction of the o-zone layer in today’s world has made the light from the sun to be harmful. Exposing patients to sunlight in the current world may therefore cause more harm than the benefits (Gilbert, 2020). According to Nightingale, a healthy environment heals. However, from the current fast-evolving world characterized with negative effects of technology and industrialization, the question still remains of how the environment would stay healthy. The development of the theory is greatly needed in the current health world to help accommodate the numerous environmental changes that we are currently experiencing.


Most nurses continue utilizing the environmental theory after realizing the health outcomes that it can impact. It is a theory that has proven to be essential in most nursing practices. For instance, the bed side nurses utilize the theory since the process of care goes hand in hand with examination of the surrounding environment of the patient to determine the need of any change. The leading causes of patients’ death and prolonged hospital stays is mostly associated with hospital acquired infections. The patient’s wellbeing relies more on environmental elements where Nightingale emphasized more on it since injuries are not the cause of these deaths and prolonged hospital stays but the effect brought by the environment. According to Riegel et al (2021), it as a result of this theory that nurses practice effectively and safely keeping in mind that hand hygiene is essential for reduction of infections, cleanliness fastens healing and stimuli reduction promotes good health.
The Nightingale’s environmental theory however had its assumptions. The first assumption is that in the process of achieving a healthful house, she believed in five key essential which include; efficient drainage, pure air, light, pure water and cleanliness. The second assumption is that a healthy environment is an essential for healing, as she stated that “nature alone cures.” The other assumption is that accurate observations must be made by nurses to their patients and a report of the patient’s condition be made to the physician in an appropriate manner (Riegel et al., 2021). Finally, the last assumption is that nursing is an art and medicine a science. According to the assumption, nurses should show loyalty to a medical plan but not being servile.
In a recap, the Nightingale’s environmental theory emphasizes on patient care. It main focus is adjusting the intermediate environment of the patient to improve their healing process. The process of patient care is more significant than the individual nurse or the relationship existing between the nurse and the patient. The model has been developed with concepts and sub-concepts that continue to influence the practice of nursing in a great way in today’s world. The model is used to meet the needs of individual patients. It is due to the different factors of environment that affect different patients in a different way that nurses’ must address patients on a case by case to facilitate quality outcomes.

Gilbert, H. A. (2020). Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory and its influence on
contemporary infection control. Collegian, 27(6), 626-633.
Rana, A. (2021). Health in environment: reduce surgical site infections by applying Florence
nightingale’s environmental theory. Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 71(2),
Riegel, F., Crossetti, M. D. G. O., Martini, J. G., & Nes, A. A. G. (2021). Florence Nightingale’s
theory and her contributions to holistic critical thinking in nursing. Revista brasileira de
enfermagem, 74.

Nursing theory Florence Nightingale Essay

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