Evolution Influence on Nursing Practice
From the American Civil War of the 1860s and the revolutionary and remarkable works of Florence Nightingale to modern day technology-aided practice, nursing has evolved over the century to become the cornerstone of healthcare delivery systems globally. The evolution of nursing has transformed not only nursing practice but also key areas of nursing such as education, theory and research. Nursing practice in particular has been markedly influenced by nursing evolution with new work settings, cultures, job responsibilities, and career training emerging over the past decades.
Nursing evolution has radically transformed the setting and culture of nursing practice. For pioneer nurses such as Florence Nightingale and thousands of American nurses who provided care to injured soldiers during American Civil War, the battlefields, homes and a few hospitals served as the settings for delivering their services (Klainberg, 2010). Such settings were inadequately equipped. The equipment used for nursing care were rudimentary, inaccurate, inefficient, and sometimes cumbersome due to their large sizes. This also reflected on the nursing practice culture during this early years. With nursing evolution spurred by technological developments and improved nursing training approaches, the settings and culture has transformed significantly. Today’s nursing practice is aided by a wide range of modern technologies that are efficient, less cumbersome, user-friendly, and accurate (Duquesne University, n.d). Patient information collection, storage, sharing, analysis, and access have been digitized. Technologies such as Google Glass, electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, Internet of Things (IoT) and Patient Portals have significant changed nursing practice setting and culture today whether in the battlefield, hospital, homes, schools, and research stations and laboratories.
As a result of nursing evolution, nursing practice today is characterized by expanded responsibilities. Unlike during the past decades, today’s nurses are tasked with making critical decisions that enhance patient safety and quality of healthcare delivery. Decisions such as prescription of medications to patients were a reserve for physicians. In cases where they performed such responsibilities, a licensed physician always supervised them. Contrastingly, nurses today make primary-care provision decisions without oversight from physicians. With improved training which has become one of the hallmarks of nursing evolution, nurses are increasingly becoming autonomous decision makers with greater authority and responsibilities within healthcare systems. As a result of training, nurses have evolved from caretakers and primary care providers into specialized personnel, capable of driving innovations and policy development (Duquesne University, n.d; Thomas, Seifert & Joyner, 2016). Nursing practice specialties have increased significantly with nurses having the opportunity to work as clinical nurses, emergency room nurses, and pediatric nurses among others.
One of the pillars of nursing evolution is nursing education which has revolutionized nursing practice. During the early centuries of nursing practice, nurses primarily relied on apprentice training to learn new skills. A practical-based approached to nursing education confined nursing practiced to a few specialty areas and narrow and short career development pathways (Duquesne University, n.d). However, transformative foundation by pioneer nursing educationist, Florence Nightingale, sparked a major evolution in nursing by providing the platform for classroom-based learning (Klainberg, 2010). Today, nursing practice is taught using modern technologies that allows for greater career progression and opportunities. New education levels now exist in nursing practice including baccalaureate degree, vocational nursing training, and associate nursing degree among others (Blais & Hayes, 2016). Technologies such as simulators offer nurses an opportunity to horn and perfect their skills within classroom settings while complementing with apprentice-style nursing practice sessions. According to Thomas, Seifert and Joyner (2016), registered nurses have been on the forefront on innovative change due to advanced training. This includes driving change in innovative technologies and policies development and provision of primary care.
In conclusion, the centrality of nursing in healthcare delivery is founded on the critical services and care offered by nurses in various settings. Over the years the profession has evolved as a result of technological advancements, complexity of healthcare needs, and training approaches. Consequently, key areas of nursing practice such as training, settings and professional responsibilities of nurses are evolved too.
Blais K. K., & Hayes, J. (2016). Professional nursing practice: Concepts and perspectives (7th ed.). London, UK: Pearson Education.
Duquesne University. (n.d). The evolution of nursing. Duquesne University: School of Nursing. Retrieved from: https://onlinenursing.duq.edu/blog/the-evolution-of-nursing/
Klainberg, M. (2010). “Chapter 2: An historical overview of nursing.” In Klainberg, M. & Dirschel, K. M. Today’s Nursing Leader: Managing, succeeding, excelling. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from: http://www.dphu.org/uploads/attachements/books/books_5384_0.pdf
Thomas, T. W., Seifert, P. C., & Joyner, J. C. (2016). Registered nurses leading innovative changes. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 21(3), Manuscript 3. Retrieved from: http://ojin.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-21-2016/No3-Sept-2016/Registered-Nurses-Leading-Innovative-Changes.html