Essay on Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory

Published: 2021/11/11
Number of words: 1860

Theory Description

The theory primarily focuses on the environment as a critical factor in helping those sick recover. The theory makes sense as it has shaped care provision in the healthcare sector. Florence Nightingale developed the environmental theory after performing as a nurse during the Crimean War. As she asserts, the environment consists of anything that surrounds an organism, with the ability to control, suppress, or facilitate disease in the society (Iram, 2018). During her time, Florence used the approach of a clean environment, fresh air, fruits, and tender care to ensure that those in the military healed. To her astonishment, the mortality rate among injured soldiers dropped from 60%to an eventual 22%. Her discoveries have since helped practitioners provide holistic care to patients. According to the theory, the difference in recovering among patients is the environment around an individual. Patients put under a clean environment recover faster than those in a dirty place. The environmental theory considers six key sentences that should act as a guiding principle to all nurses in the healthcare profession. To her, nursing is a profession that should be based upon care provision and sacrificing oneself for the rest.

First, Nightingale asserts that confidentiality is an essential factor in the provision of holistic nursing care. Privacy means that one can be depended upon to keep medical information private. To Nightingale, any nurse with no ability to keep private information has no place in the profession and should consider changing. In her writing, she mentions that gossiping and leaking of data about a patient are unethical. Healthcare practitioners are expected to exhibit a high level of confidentiality in the provision of services. Second, there is a need for every nurse to build trust with the patient in the process of care provision. Building trust with a patient helps them recover faster than one could have taken.

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Third, a nurse should be observant, according to Nightingale’s Environmental Theory. In her writings, Florence notes with concern that a nurse should be keen when observing a patient’s symptoms. Nurses should know how to observe responsive signs in patients. Such skills can help them read an imminent problem to a patient or unresponsiveness to specific medications. To her, nurses who cannot observe such symptoms had better quit the profession. Fourth, a nurse should apply appropriate and proper communication language with patients. Nightingale asserts that nurses should speak to patients with tenderness, while close to them to make them more comfortable. Failure of a nurse to be observant can be fatal to the patients that she/he takes care of.

Nurses should apply varied teaching methodologies to their patients, especially when training them to do exercises. The use of one strategy might prove unhelpful in making the sick feel better. Different approaches prove to be thrilling for patients, which makes them heal faster from their ailments. Diversified learning is the most significant relief that a patient can receive in their bid to recovery. The Environmental theory acknowledges the role of fresh air and a bright environment in helping patients recover faster. Patients should be subjected to an environment with clean water and fresh oxygen. Nightingale asserts that where there is sun, thought exists, which implies the role of a bright environment to a patient. The Nightingale’s Environmental theory illustrates fundamental guidelines that have shaped the face of the profession.

Logic behind the Theory

It is crucial to critically examine the sense behind the environmental theory in the provision of holistic care to patients. The environmental theory focuses on the surroundings as a critical factor in determining the recovery chances of an individual. First, the environment controls, suppresses, and contributes to diseases, which affect the life of a patient (Oerther, 2017). To a sick patient, a clean environment can help them heal faster, according to the Environmental theory. Disease-causing bacteria manifest in a dump and dirty environment, which can worsen the condition of a patient. As such, basing the recovery of an individual to the environmental care accorded makes sense. Keeping a clean environment is the basis for the theory that has since been widely applied in the nursing profession.

Second, the theory makes sense since it teaches nurses how to provide holistic care to patients. For instance, making the patients happy is an essential matter as it helps them heal faster. Nursing care should not only be based on prescribed medications but also show empathy to patients. The theory is based on the idea of building trust with the patient, which aids one in ailing from a specific condition. The theory trains nurses to spend time with patients and how to provide palliative care. At the same time, the theory makes sense since it aims at sustainable environment conservation for improved population health (Medeiros, Enders & Lira, 2015). Medicare practitioners should employ strategies outlined by Nightingale’s theory in their provision of care to patients. The theory draws upon real-life experiences that can help people feel better even during their worst.

Importance to Critical Thinking and Decision-Making

Clinical practitioners should apply the theory and ensure that they help patients feel better in their conditions. For instance, the theory is applicable in critical thinking and evaluation of various conditions. Some conditions that patients suffer from originate from the environment, making the theory relevant to helping many recover. The theory helps a practicing nurse apply their intuition about patient care to deliver the best of service (Pirani, 2016). For instance, chronic diseases that require complicated medications require the patient to be prepared first. It is the role of the nurse to apply their critical thinking and devise a humble, simple way of addressing the same. Application of the wrong approach might create an impression about the treatment, which can affect n individual’s healing. Some situations with patients necessitate the nurse to apply their critical thinking to devise possible mechanisms to handle them. Knowledge from the environmental theory can be applied to ensure that the surrounding of an individual is kept neat.

The canons that the researcher mentioned are still widely applied in the provision of holistic care for patients. It is through logical thinking a nurse should apply the theory and keep the environment clean. A nurse should apply his/her discretion to help better the lives of patients. Personal hygiene is essential, and it should begin with the nurse so that the patient can follow. Poor personal hygiene worsens the conditions of patients, which contradicts Nightingale’s Environmental theory. Some canons mentioned by Nightingale are applicable upon critical use, for instance, drinking clean water. This is a decision that can be made by an individual or the nurse in charge. As such, the theory is widely applicable and ensures that patients are accorded the right support to heal.

The theory can train nurses on the essence of organizing their work appropriately for better service delivery. One should be able to apply the principles of the theory in providing holistic care to their patients. For instance, communication is key to the patient, and applying Nightingale’s writings can prove to help. Through the theory, nurses learn to be independent and industrious in their daily activities to boost the health of patients. Environmental theory, as founded by Florence Nightingale, has proved to be relevant in helping patients recover.

Importance of the Theorist to Development of Nursing Profession

Florence Nightingale is vital to the development of the nursing profession for some reason. First, the theorist identified the critical philosophy behind the healing of patients. Her work has shaped the provision of clinical service as many aim to improve the environment of a person. Besides medication, personal care, and empathy help patients to heal, a notion that has led to the development of palliative care in the discipline. Palliative care has replaced hospice, which applied to people with ailments that have no cure. As such, the theorist remains an important figure having set the pace in the profession. Many healthcare providers advocate for high levels of hygiene, as advocated for by Nightingale in her Environmental theory. Her prominence in the nursing profession can be recognized as having aided many in the military to heal quickly. Having identified the role of the environment in the recovery of a patient, Nightingale remains to be a hero and a role model for many practicing the clinical profession.

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Nightingale requested to do research, which led to establishment of Royal Institute of Research on the health of the military. To many, Florence proved to be a great humanitarian and public figure who changed the face of nursing globally. Her prowess and ability in mathematics earned her reputation as a well-known statistician (AliSher, Atta, Yasin & Sohail, 2019). She invented the pie chart making her more popular in the world of statistics. Many individuals join the nursing profession due to inspirational work done by Florence Nightingale. The theorist is regarded as the most philosophical, having outlined critical pre-requisites for individuals within the profession. Her work shows the link between the environment of a living organism and the health condition of the body. As such, Nightingale is seen to have been critical in the historical development of clinical nursing.

The theorist is remembered for her strong will to fight for the position of a woman within the community. Britain had no much regard for women, especially on matters of leadership. Men typically controlled power in the society, and women were just facilitators. Nightingale wanted to prove to the society that women can help and participate constructively. Her research work materialized to form what many believe is the Environmental theory. During her time, she was among the first philosophers who wanted gender equality in the society. As such, she is remembered for championing feminism in the Great Britain in the 19th century. Her theory has shaped the face of the nursing profession, which is important in the provision of holistic care. Practitioners in the healthcare sectors should be trained based on the environmental theory to ensure improved services to people (Mughal & Irshad Ali, 2017). The environmental theory remains relevant in the profession and should be applied in all operations.


AliSher, A. N., Atta, S., Yasin, I., & Sohail, M. A. (2019). Clinical application of nightingale’s theory. International Journal of Nursing Care7(1), 13-16.

Iram, M. (2018). Ensuring Holistic Care: Application and Evaluation of Florence Nightingaleas Environmental Theory on Tuberculosis Patient. Global Journal of Medical Research.

Medeiros, A. B. D. A., Enders, B. C., & Lira, A. L. B. D. C. (2015). The Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory: A critical analysis. Escola Anna Nery19(3), 518-524.

Mughal, F. B., & Irshad Ali, B. H. (2017). Enhancing patient well-being: Applying environmental theory in nursing practice. Annals of Nursing and Practice4(3), 1085.

Oerther, D. B. (2017). Using nursing theory to improve the teaching of engineering practice.

Pirani, S. A. (2016). Application of Nightingale’s theory in nursing practice. Annals of Nursing and Practice3(1), 1040.

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