Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsNurses can make a significant contribution to protecting and promoting population health and wellbeing. Yet for many nurses today, the daily challenges of direct patient care and keeping pace with the ever changing nature of their health services often become their primary concern. Florence Nightingale is widely acknowledged as the founder of modern nursing. She is credited for her accomplishments in initiating nurse training and her legacy is the development of nursing as a profession. Perhaps less well known and appreciated is that Florence Nightingale was a social reformer and a public health campaigner. Through her writings, we learn that she was outspoken on the importance of cleanliness, ventilation and light, warmth, freedom from noise and good nutrition, both in hospital and in the home.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 secondsShe was equally committed, however, to redressing unjust social policies and shaping public awareness about the impact of poor living conditions and poverty on health. Her writings can be considered contradictory by some but there is no doubt that she was influential and far sighted. Her compassion, determination, social conscience, vision, leadership and ability to work with others and to network enabled her to collaborate at the highest political level. She acquired the title Lady with the Lamp and her statement in 1890 to make health contagious and infectious is today just as relevant and illuminating. Florence Nightingale rooted the origins of nursing firmly in public health. Nursing has come a long way since the era of Florence Nightingale and the profession has developed significantly.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 secondsNurses are no longer just restricted to the bedside and they are active almost everywhere in the world on the front lines of healthcare caring for the ill and injured and supporting and protecting individuals, families and groups, whether in hospital, the community, war zones, refugee camps, or through education, management and policy. Public health is everyone’s business but to what extent are nurses today confident about their involvement in and the contribution they make to improving population, health and wellbeing. Has this important area of practice become diluted and has its focus become lost within nursing? Today the world in which we live and how we live our lives is rapidly changing and this creates new public health challenges.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 secondsThese challenges are local, regional, national and global and are no longer only the domain of public health specialist departments and organisations. Public health is integral to the role of all nurses, regardless of specialism, or place of work. But this does mean they must be able to adapt and work in new ways, just as Florence Nightingale did in the nineteenth century. If they are to make a more visible contribution to public health and to raise their profile in responding to and tackling the causes of poor health and wellbeing. I am Pauline Lilley, a senior lecturer in nursing at Coventry University and module leader for nursing and public health which is part of the MSC Nursing.

Skip to 3 minutes and 48 secondsI am a registered nurse, a registered midwife and a registered specialist community public health nurse in health visiting. What do you think Florence Nightingale would say about nursing today?

Today's Florence Nightingale?

Watch this video in which Pauline Lilley, Senior Lecturer in Nursing, introduces some of the key concepts and history informing the course.

This course (and this program) begins by exploring some of the issues and themes Pauline discusses, but to get us started, here’s a big question.

Your task

Could you adopt Florence Nightingale’s approach to public health in your own practice?

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This video is from the free online course:

Could You Be the Next Florence Nightingale?

Coventry University