Plato, Nightingale, and Nursing: Can You Hear Me Now?
Purpose: A historical perspective on how the writings of Plato influenced Florence Nightingale in the formation of nursing as a respected profession for women. Comparing Nightingale's life and legacy to Platonic philosophy demonstrates how philosophy continues to speak to the profession of nursing practice as guardians of society in the 21st century. Methods: A review of the literature using EBSCO, SAGEpub, MEDLINE, and CINAHL databases and hand searches of literature were initiated for the years 1990-2014 using the terms "Plato," "Nightingale," and "nursing" restricted to English. Findings: Florence Nightingale, known as the mother of modern-day nursing, embodied her life and work after the philosophic tenets of Plato. Plato's Allegory of the Cave influenced Nightingale's attitudes with regard to the value of education, knowledge of the good, and the importance of imparting learned knowledge to others. Plato's work spoke of educating both men and women to seek the truth, affording both sexes to become competent as future leaders in the role of guardians to society. Nightingale's emphasis of education for women as a conduit for their usefulness to society mirrored Plato's philosophy. Conclusion: Over 100 years after her death, the impact Florence Nightingale still has on professional nursing practice remains. Scholarship in nursing education today is infused with a liberal arts background in philosophy, ethics, and the sciences. Nightingale's holistic concepts of person, health, and environment in the practice of nursing coalesced with her statistical analyses in validating nursing actions foreshadowed the development of universal nursing knowledge and language base and meta-paradigm concepts in nursing. Further classification and categorization of Nightingale's concepts of assessing, implementing, and evaluating delivery of care became the linguistic precursors for the identification of nursing process, nursing actions, and nursing diagnoses. Nursing implications: Plato's and Nightingale's holistic, scientific, and humanistic approach to living, and to care practice in all its dimensions, grounds the discipline of nursing in a liberal arts and critical thinking matrix, elevating nursing to higher ethical, safe, and professional levels of standards.
International Journal of Nursing Knowledge
First Page Number
Last Page Number
Arnone, Jacqueline Michele and Fitzsimons, Virginia, "Plato, Nightingale, and Nursing: Can You Hear Me Now?" (2015). Kean Publications. 1836.