Every year the Healthcare Industry celebrates Nurses Week from May 6 – May 12. Many may not know that the last day is also Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Before I took my nursing career experience into business, I did not recognize the fact that Florence Nightingale was also a phenomenal nursing entrepreneur.
Most remember Florence Nightingale’s nursing care of British soldiers during the Crimean War, when she and her volunteers worked to reduce infectious disease and improve sanitary conditions. However, it is in the details of how her entrepreneurial spirit took action to create modern day nursing that I believe set the foundation for even more avenues for nurses that were not even present in that day.
When Nightingale was asked to provide medical care during the Crimean War, there were no female nurses, and the hospitals were significantly understaffed. Nightingale had to recruit 34 nurses from a variety of backgrounds in only a few days. I can only imagine the strategic influence she had to apply to inspire these nurses to come to a war zone that was not inviting under such horrid conditions.
Nightingale was also able to persuade her team of nurses to follow her as she organized very limited resources into effective patient care. She created the “invalid kitchen”, where meals for patients’ with special dietary requirements were prepared. She created a “laundry” area where patients would have clean linen and clothing. In fact, Nightingale created entertainment, so that patients were intellectually stimulated during these trying times, which improved the morale of the entire hospital, leading to positive outcomes. Nightingale created her own business by adding value with the intentional actions she took to create something better and new.
Nightingale went on to translate clinical data into a new visual format that provided statistics of staggering death rates from the army mortality that were due to preventable disease instead of from battle. The Nightingale Rose Diagram reminds me of critical thinking applications, like root cause analysis and the arrival by way of a modern-day gap analysis where she was just trying to find a solution to these deaths.
Nightingale is best known as a nurse, but behind her success of disrupting for change she drew upon her entrepreneurial talents for persuading, creating, organizing, and taking action that provided significant value to her “customers.” Thus, Nightingale was also a profound salesperson, businesswoman, recruiter, consultant, and leader that affixed to her well known role as a Nurse.
Today, we are faced with a familiar theme of staffing shortages in healthcare and deaths by preventable physical and mental disease as well. Nurses have unique and profound insights, influence and creativity that can provide the most value for the long-term change that the healthcare industry is craving. I wonder if Nightingale would suggest that if we spend more time nurturing and listening to our nurses and providing them the opportunity to apply their talent to create something new, we would find the value our “customers” desire for long lasting change….
Wishing ALL Nurses, a Happy Nurses Week!
Also, I am especially grateful to my Mentors in Nursing: Carol “Beanie,” Patti-Sue, Daphne D., Renee “Renneisms,” Pam B., and Lynne W.