Write a paper in APA format giving a summary of your assigned nursing theory. The
paper should include biographical information about the theorist, an overview of their
theory, and how the theory can be applied to education, research, and practice. The paper
should be no more than 5 pages in length, not including the reference page and title page.
The reference page must
include at least 2 scholarly source citations in APA format.
Florence Nightingale: A Nursing Theorist
Many nursing theorists have contributed to the field of nursing. Florence Nightingale was
the first nursing theorist who developed the theory of Environmental Theory in Nursing.
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12 in 1820, in a town called Florence in Italy. One of the
most notable contributions that Nightingale made is that, in unison with a team of nurses,
Nightingale helped to improve the sanitary conditions at one British Base hospital and reduced
the deaths of patients by two thirds. Nightingale’s writings during her life generated health care
reform throughout the world. In 1860, she developed her hospital called St. Thomas Hospital and
the Nightingale Training School for Nurses that helped train effective nurses.
Florence was the younger one in her family where she had one sibling. She was born in
an affluent British Family that belonged to the elite social class. Despite her mother’s struggle
and yearn for upper social class movement, Florence was reportedly awkward in social spheres.
She avoided being the center of attraction. Florence was provided with classical education that
included studies in French, German and Italian. Throughout her life, she was interested in
philanthropy. She ministered to the poor and the sick who lived in the village next to her family’s
estate. By age 16, her interest in nursing was very clear. At first, her parents forbade her from
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE, A NURSING THEORIST 2
becoming a nurse. During the Victorian era, a young girl who occupied her social status was
supposed to marry a wealthy man and not take up a job that was considered demeaning by the
upper social class. She refused a marriage proposal at age 17 stating that she needed moral active
nature satisfaction. She enrolled as a nursing student in 1844, at Lutheran Hospital directed by
Pastor Fliedner. In the 1850s, nightingale worked as a nurse in London, in Middlesex Hospital.
She went on to work and write as a nurse and received various recognitions from King Edward
in 1908 and from King George in 1910. She fell sick in 1910 and died on Saturday August 13 at
her home, in London (Nightingale & McDonald, Florence Nightingale: An Introduction to Her
Life and Family, 2001) .
The environmental theory developed by Florence Nightingale focusses on a holistic
approach to the environment (physical, psychological and social) and how it affects the health of
individuals. Her theory emphasized that, for individuals to be healthy, the environment must
promote health. Therefore, through the establishment of a healthy environment, nurses could be
better placed to provide quality care for patients. The theory emphasizes that man is responsive
to the environment and had reparative powers when put in a healthy environment. However, man
was not just an individual but a combination of his environment and the effect that the
environment places on him.
Her theory was based on several assumptions. It emphasized on natural laws. Some of the
assumptions are that man can achieve perfection; nursing is a calling, an art and science, can be
achieved through environmental modification, requires specific educational orientation and is
separate and distinct from medicine. The theory emphasized that the environment should provide
proper ventilation, light and warming. Noise should be avoided and cleanliness of rooms and
walls ensured. Beds and beddings should be clean, in addition to personal cleanliness. Her theory
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE, A NURSING THEORIST 3
emphasizes on nurses who must be subservient to doctors and should provide all these aspects.
Florence held that patients must be put in the best conditions that allows nature to act on them.
Nurses are responsible in reducing noise and relieving the anxieties that patients may have and
help them get proper rest. Concerning health, the theory states that health does not only mean to
be well but the ability to use well all the powers people have. Diseases are considered as the
absence of comfort.
Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory of nursing can be applied to education,
research and practice. Nightingale was the first to state that nursing required specific education.
This means that a nurse cannot be effective without proper nursing education. Nightingale’s
theory can be applied to education of nurses in the sense that nurses should be taught their
responsibilities as nurses including the principles that guide the nursing profession, such as
advocacy as a functional principle. Secondly, an understanding that nursing is an art and science
is helpful in the education of nurses by making them understand that nursing does not just
depend on science principles but also integrates principles of art bringing in the importance of
the environmental arrangement (Nightingale & McDonald, Florence Nightingale on Public
Health Care: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, 2004) .
In research, this theory can also be helpful in a way that it can be used as a theoretical
framework in the study of phenomenon or topics that are related to nursing, such as the
importance of environment to nursing. The principles brought up in the theory can also be used
in current research activities, in nursing.
In practice, the environmental theory is very crucial in the sense that it helps the nurse put
the life and health of the patient as the most important aspects. A nurse can modify the
environment to provide cleanliness, ventilation and an encouraging atmosphere to promote
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE, A NURSING THEORIST 4
healing. A nurse will understand that the environment is very important in supporting a patient to
heal, thus modify it to provide better healing conditions for the patient.
In conclusion, Florence Nightingale was the first nursing theorist who developed the
environmental theory of nursing that emphasizes on the importance of environment on the
healing ability of patients. The principles of the theory can be effectively applied on education,
research and practice of nursing.
Nightingale, F., & McDonald, L. (2001). Florence Nightingale: An Introduction to Her Life and
Family. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press.
Nightingale, F., & McDonald, L. (2004). Florence Nightingale on Public Health Care: Collected
Works of Florence Nightingale. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press.