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Historical Perspective in Nursing

Historical Perspective in Nursing


Education is something that must not be taken for granted. It is vital not only in simple tasks of day to day living, but also to the performance of the chosen profession, especially in nursing service wherein professionals deal with nothing less but the human lives.  Tracing back the history of nursing education seems to be a little unnecessary considering the widespread modernization as of today. Why then, do we need to go back in time and study the past? Why when doing so may only mean accomplishing trivial matters?

            The answer is born out of a cliché but is very much true.  In our past, lies our future. History repeats itself only if we are too complacent that it will never happen again. But if we take into consideration the possibilities that things may turn up just how they exactly did in the past, we crave for knowledge on how to avoid it. Thus, we study the anatomy of the past.  And that is what we are going to do as to the nursing education.

            Nursing practice started out as an instinct. Primitive people do not have the right knowledge about the specific diseases but they do acknowledge that when they would feel cold, they will cover themselves by making clothes out of leaves. More often than not, they get wounded and they know for an instance that it must be cleaned with the water running from the rivers. Thus, nursing started as early as prehistoric era. There was no concrete knowledge. No skills were required. Their instincts have taught them what they should do.

            Then nursing became a tradition, centred as the duty of the women in each family. Mothers should stay by their children’s side and tend to their needs. They should take care of their husbands whenever they get sick. This tradition is rooted from the very much accepted belief that men should work for the family and women should stay home, making them in charge of everything that revolves in the house, with no exception to the health of the members.

            Then religious sects started nursing as an apprenticeship. Young women in the convent will be taught by those in the higher position on what to do to care for the ill and the injured After Florence Nightingale built the first training school for nurses, St. Thomas Hospital in London, the rest, notable, is history.

Before, nursing services are provided if and only if the person in ill or injured. Now nursing focuses on the holistic aspect of an individual: catering the well-being as much as the physical aspect is taken into consideration.

Then it happened. Medications for diseases are discovered one after the other. Procedures that will enhance the health of the people surfaced. Theories blossomed in a faster rate than what was expected. The knowledge is overflowing and simple instinct or apprenticeship is no longer enough to compensate for the progress. A transition from informal to being a formal body of knowledge is needed. Education must be made in such a way that it has a systematic approach and an organized syllabus. This is done so to protect not only the patients receiving the care but also the nurses attending to their needs.

The license of a nurse is provided to them after they have completed the course required to them by the state. They will have it in their hands only after their extensive studying for years and commendable hard work. The card that will prove that they are capable of practicing their profession will also reflect their rights and their privileges as a registered professional. Equally, the card is an access for all the patients, letting them know that the one caring for them is accountable for all his or her actions and if, by any chance, he or she has committed gave offenses such as unacceptable negligence or serious malpractice, their license may be revoked once evidences of their wrongdoings are proven. Imagine: years of study and hard work, all put to waste in a snap of a finger. The license drives the nurse to be always cautious upon handling patients.

What has driven this evolution to take place? Simple. Because there is a need. This major factor transpires into countless more reasons. First there was a need to feel well. Instinct will do. Then there was a need for protection thus, formal education was initiated and the license was bestowed upon the professional and will be revoked once he or she is no longer capable of practicing their profession. Now, there is a need to expand the roles of nurses. To date, nurses become more versatile than ever. There are nurses in all areas. Nurse educators are in the universities. Company nurses in industrial settings. Nurse midwives. Nurse anaesthetist. All these require education even more extensive than what they have acquired to become a registered professionals.

Now nurses even have degrees corresponding to the level of their attained education. There are Associate Degree in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Arts in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice, all with different responsibilities and privileges.

True enough men will never be contented. The thirst to improve will never be quenched. Fortunately, people use their knowledge to enhance something as vital as nursing practice. Nursing education will have a long way to go, considering the technological advances present for the healthcare. But success will always follow if education mixed with discipline will not be taken for granted.


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