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Nightingale’s Environmental Theory in Nursing

Throughout all the history of humanity people suffered for different illnesses. Moreover, wars were also an integral part of human society. As a result, there always were a great number of people who needed some special treatment, though, who were not able to satisfy this demand by their own forces. That is why, it is obvious that nursing became a very important science which helped people to get rid of sufferings and accelerate their recovery. Resting on this fact, it is no wonder that people tried to create different approaches to the issue of treating patients and guaranteeing the best conditions for their recovery. Each of these theories has its weak and strong points and centers around certain issue. With this in mind, it is possible to analyze one of them to understand the idea of nursing better.

Environment model, suggested by Florence Nightingale, states that environment is very important for the treatment of a patient. According to this idea, a patient should be treated under the best conditions and only in this case some improvement can be guaranteed. There are several main assumptions in it, under which the theory operates. They are:

  • “natural laws;
  • mankind can achieve perfection;
  • nursing is a calling;
  • nursing is an art and a science;
  • nursing is achieved through environmental alteration;
  • nursing requires a specific educational base;
  • nursing is distinct and separate from medicine” (Environmental Theory, n.d., para. 2).

It is possible to admit, that this approach underlines complexity of the issue of nursing and necessity of a good knowledge base for successful treatment of a patient. Moreover, the role of the nature and environment is underlined. Nevertheless, there are some main concepts peculiar for this theory which were also created to improve the way patients were treated. The main concepts are “ventilation and warming, light and noise, cleanliness of the area, health of houses, bed and bedding, personal cleanliness, variety, offering hope and advice, food and observation” (Environmental Theory, n.d.). Having created them, Florence started a new era in nursing.

Great importance of conditions under which a patient is treated was noticed by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. At that period of time, nursing was not some special kind of science and the main aspects of it were not investigated. Florence admitted that patients very often died from horrible conditions under which they had to survive. That is why, her first step was to guarantee maintenance of the main health rules. As a result, her interference and a new approach reduced the death rate from 42% to 2% (Theory of Florence Nightingale, n.d.). Drawing attention of the Sanitary Commission to this fact, she managed to achieve acknowledgement of her theory. Florence Nightingale has become one of the most famous women who saved great number of lives during the Crimean war. Moreover, her approach influenced greatly the further development of nursing.

The thing is, that there were not general rules according to which patients were treated. It is possible to say, that Florence created a basis for the further development of nursing. Her ideas influenced greatly the change of existing practice of the treatment of patients. Moreover, they are now implied in modern practice of nursing as good conditions are one of the main factors which are now provided for sick people. The work Notes on Nursing: What it is, What is not written by Florence is very often considered to be the foundation of nursing theory. Main ideas presented in this book promoted alteration of exiting practice and implementation of new standards. Great significance of this theory can be proved by the fact that many researchers now suggest its implementation in clinical cases. The article Clinical application of nightingales environment theory, which underlines importance of this theory, can serve as the best example of the topicality of this theory under modern conditions (Shirin, 2013).

Being the turning point in the development of the science of nursing, Environmental theory has obviously generated a great number of different studies and researches connected with the main ideas presented by Florence Nightingale. Since the appearance of the theory, researchers tried to determine mutual dependence between the quality of treatment of a patient and environment. Moreover, different showings connected with the implementation of this theory were analyzed. It is obvious, that scientists and researches obtained results which only proved great significance and importance of this theory. One of the researches which can serve as the evidence of the great value of the theory is called Environmentally Safe Health Care Agencies: Nursing’s Responsibility, Nightingale’s Legacy. Conducted by several investigators, its main aim is to determine the impact of environment on human health (Shaner-McRae, McRae & Jas, 2007). Results of this research are obvious and just prove unique character of the Environmental theory.

Having analyzed the main aspects of the theory. it is possible to outline some main facts about it. First of all, it should be said that the theory is quite comprehensive. Underlining the importance of environment, Florence Nightingale also gives descriptions and solutions to some problems. She suggests certain variants of the improvement of conditions and main actions which should be made in order to guarantee lowering of the death rate. It is very difficult to outline some weak points in this theory as it seems to be very clear and understandable. Moreover, the main statements of the Environment model are time proved and they have their unique character. It goes without saying, that information and main concepts which are revealed by this theory should be used in practice. The reason for this statement is a universal character of this theory. Its efficiency was proved by hundreds of different researches and experiments. That is why, its main concepts should be taken into account in advanced practice.

Having outlined the main issues and concepts of the Environmental theory created by Florence Nightingale, it is possible to make certain conclusions. First of all, it should be said that this model can be taken as the basis for the whole nursing theory. Being created as the result of observations during the Crimean war, this theory proved its efficiency. Having outlined main concepts of nursing, Environment model promoted the change in attitude towards nursing theory. Moreover, different studies and investigations connected with this issue show great interest of scientists to the main ideas covered by this theory. Additionally, great practical utility of the ideas presented should also be taken into account. It is impossible to find a hospital nowadays which does not observe the main principles of the Environment theory. Florence Nightingale managed to create a model which changed the whole image of nursing as a science.


Environmental Theory. (n.d.). Nursing Theory. Web.

Shaner-McRae, H., McRae, G. & Jas, V. (2007). Environmentally Safe Health Care Agencies: Nursing’s Responsibility, Nightingale’s Legacy. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 12(2), n.p.

Shirin, R. (2013). Clinical application of nightingales environment theory. Journal of Nursing, 3(1), 43 – 49. Web.

Theory of Florence Nightingale. (n.d.). Web.

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