Florence Nightingale, also known as “the lady with the lamp,” has the title of being the mother of modern nursing. She is also an author credited with publishing the first nursing theory: the Environmental Theory. Contrary to popular belief, Nightingale’s “theory” wasn’t literally published as a theory but instead its details were obtained from the interpretation of Nightingale’s writings, especially those that were a result of her experience treating soldiers during the Crimean War.
Nightingales Environmental Theory was a direct result of her experience in the Crimean war in which she and 38 other women volunteered to take care of ailing and wounded soldiers who they found were being cared for in less than optimal conditions. During her stay with the soldiers, she discovered a link between the poor living conditions in the hospital and the increased incidence of patient mortality. After addressing these concerns, the death rates dramatically dropped.
The Theory The Environmental Theory of nursing practice is fundamentally built around the concept that the patient’s environment plays a significant role in the natural healing process. Here, the environment is defined as the external conditions that affects ones life and this includes “everything from the person’s food and the verbal and non-verbal interactions with the patient” (Florence Nightingale, 2001 p. 19).
It pre-supposes that an environment that is optimal for the wellbeing of patients aids in the patient’s natural restoration while an environment that is detrimental stresses the patient and thus becomes a hindrance towards restoration. Under this theory model, the main task of the nurse is to provide the patient’s basic needs through the restoration of optimal environmental conditions. It is the nurse’s responsibility to facilitate the patients “reparative process” by influencing and ensuring the best possible environment to affect the patient’s health.
The nurse must attain this through the proper utilization of logic and critical thinking with one distinction: focus on the restorative process rather than the disease (Florence Nightingale, 2001 n. a. ). There are three environmental areas that are of concern under this theory. The first area is the physical environment where importance is given to the provision of optimum living conditions that includes proper ventilation and clean air, proper lighting (preferably sunlight), clean water and proper drainage, optimal temperatures, proper nutrition and complete hygiene.
The second environment is in the field of Psychology where the primary concern is the reduction and prevention of stress to the patient. This operates under the notion that stress forces the body to utilize energy best reserved for personal restoration instead towards correcting/adapting to the effects of the stressors and this in effect hampers the healing process. This area is best addressed through the use of therapeutic communication and the provision of activities that will promote mental activity, learning and diversion from the current condition.
The last area of concern is in the Social environment of the patient which involves the collection of medical histories, provision of preventive health education and assessment of the physical and social conditions that are either conducive or detrimental to the patient’s health (Florence Nightingale, 2001 p. 13-14). This aspect operates under the concept that health is an interactive phenomenon between the patient, his body, his environment and the people around him thus addressing this area of concern can be of great assistance towards restoring the patient’s health.
Other components of this theory include the attainment and maintaining the following: housing conditions, noise, personal hygiene, nutrition, bed and beddings, provision of hope and advice, observation of the sick, the utilization of the nursing process and social considerations towards variances (Florence Nightingale, 2001 p. 17). Reference Florence Nightingale. (2007). NIPISSING University. Retrieved on December 9, 2008 from www. nipissingu. ca/faculty/arohap/aphome/NURS3006/Resources/NightingaleTheory. ppt