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Historical Development of Nursing Timeline

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Historical Development of Nursing Timeline

Cynthia Taylor

University of Phoenix

Theoretical Foundation of Practice

HCS 513

Margaret Mead DNP RN

May 30, 2011

Historical Development of Nursing Timeline


The nursing discipline is rich and full of history with modest beginnings. However, over the years, the professional nursing has become independent and has developed into a field that many individuals find pleasure in working. Professional nursing is usually said to date from the Florence Nightingale era. It has been called the oldest of art and the youngest profession (Donahue, 1996). This paper will give a time line of important events within nursing that has helped to shape the profession, influence nursing science has on the profession and influence nursing science has on other disciplines. Nursing theorists agree that nursing is concerned with assisting man to maintain optimal health throughout his life process.

Nursing has always been directed at serving the health care needs of society. Nursing originated with the desired to keep people health and provide comfort, care and assurance to the ill in the community. Nursing was distinguished in its early history as a form of community service and was originally related to a strong instinct to preserve and protect the family (Donahue, 1985).

Historical Development

Nursing is as old as medicine. Throughout history, nursing and medicine have had an independent relationship and the approach to nursing was based largely on medical knowledge (Newman, 1995) (Newman, 1995). During the era of Hippocrates, medicine practice without nursing. He was one of the first people in the world to study healthcare. During the Middle Ages, nursing practiced without rational medicine (Donahue, 1985).

In ancient cultures, religious beliefs and myths were the basis for health care and medical practice. Religious leaders were responsible for diagnosis and treatment, and many cultures believed illness was caused by the gods' displeasure. In these cultures, nurses usually had a role subservient to religious leaders.

We certainly learn a great deal from our basic nursing theory, education and practical experiences at the bedside, but relying on that knowledge alone is a service to our patients. What we need to understand is the reason for our nursing action, having the knowledge to be able to think to avoid wasting time and energy. This is all done through what nursing science that basically breaks down the meaning of what nurses do and why through research.

Florence Nightingale was the person behind the first nursing theory. Her theory has been referred also as the environmental theory. Nightingale developed her theory during the Crimean War as she cared for soldiers. Her theory is that a positive clean environment promotes health within a person. This would be the first glimpse of nursing science as Nightingale supported her thoughts through statistical data, charts and graphs.

In the 1950s theorist began reviewing theories developed in psychology and later created nursing need theories. These theories were then used to look at the needs of the patient. Theorist like Orem emerged at this time (Kiikkala PhD & Munnukka PhD, 2006). Orem's theory is the self care theory, which states that the goals of nursing is to help a patient care for herself and when patient are not able to there is a self care deficit and nursing is needed. Peplau developed a developmental theory that promotes interpersonal relations in nursing. Peplau conceptualized nursing as an integration of art and science, that they both come together in practice showing a seamless quality, a graceful and delicately baalnced movement between art and science portrayed by experienced expert nurses that transcends as it uses the differences between these forms (Peplau, 1990, p. 8-15).

Nursing Science and Profession

Nursing science, the



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