Is the art of nursing dying? A call for political action

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Abstract

Nightingale conceived of the art of nursing as the ability of the nurse to positively influence a patient’s environment to foster healing. By this definition, the art of nursing is at risk. Rather than impacting their circumstances, nurses are being overwhelmed by them. The challenges faced by nurses currently have many parallels with historical examples of Nightingale’s work. In this article, examples of modern nursing workforce challenges are contrasted with situations faced by Nightingale. Like Nightingale, modern nurses are being required to justify their worth in order to receive funding and renumeration for their work. Nursing work is being devalued, which is reflected in nursing education policy and changes to professional structures. In the midst of these difficulties, nurses can take inspiration from Nightingale as a political advocate and activist. Modern nurses face a call to action, to defend the professional nature of nursing and regain their political influence. Specific strategies for political action are discussed and nurses are urged to engage politically in order to regain control of their environment and the art of nursing.

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