1. Humphrey, Carolyn J. MS, RN, FAAN

Article Content

A recent Washington Post article reported how our British counterparts are working to remove Florence Nightingale as the symbol of nursing. It seems that Ms Nightingale's descendants in nursing feel that a more contemporary role model is needed. At the annual conference of Unison, Britain's largest trade union representing nurses and other public service workers, delegates unanimously declared that Ms. Nightingale needed to go.


The ongoing nursing shortage in the United States is also being acutely felt in the United Kingdom. Our British colleagues feel that the public's image of Ms. Nightingale represents the "negative and backward elements of nursing." However, nursing historians beg to differ and feel that although her agenda has become outdated, she represents a symbol of the power of nursing to make a difference in people's life.


I encourage you to read the whole story that appears in the Post by accessing the Web site. Although there are many myths surrounding the "lady with the lamp," those of us working to communicate the importance of nursing to the public and interest more people in the profession should contemplate what is our professional symbol.


So, what about our current role model?


The Post article quotes Lois Monterior, professor emeritus in the Department of Community Health at Brown University and a member of an international group of researchers working on the collected letters of Nightingale:


"It is the myth that modern nurses are rebelling against, not the real woman. I do think the broader woman is the important role model, not the one walking around with the lamp and ministering to soldiers. If nursing looked at the real model-that of a reformer, a politician, a statistician and a sanitarian-they might get somewhere."


I'd like to hear your thoughts about this.


[black small square] What should today's role model and icon for nursing look like?


[black small square] What best describe what nursing does, is, and can be?


[black small square] Where does home care fit into the picture?



Please write, fax, or e-mail your thoughts (up to 200 words) or send a drawing depicting the "Nurse Symbol of the 21st Century." Include your name, address, e-mail, and phone number and submit your material by August 15, 2003. Results will be published in an upcoming issue of HHN. Submission acknowledges your permission for HHN to publish the material (your name need not be published if you wish to remain anonymous). Submissions are subject to editing.


Let's make this interesting and fun! Put your thinking caps on-we need to hear from you!


Good Night, Florence: With Nursing in Crisis, Some Say It's Time To Retire Nightingale as a Symbol by Roxanne Nelson was published April 29, 2003 in The Washington Post (p. HE01). Read the entire article at: