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Florence Nightingale was the First Emergency Nurse – Happy Emergency Nurses Week from Values Coach

Florence Nightingale Receiving the Wounded at Scutari, a painting by Jerry Barrett (that’s him looking out the window)

Imagine a line of ambulances pulling up to your emergency department door with 50-100 mortally wounded and critically ill soldiers every single day for more than two years.

Further imagine that you have only the most rudimentary technology, limited supplies, and totally cramped and inadequate facilities in which to care for these sick and dying men.

That was the situation Florence Nightingale faced at the Scutari Barrack Hospital during the Crimean War of 1854-56. In the midst of that healthcare crisis, Nightingale established nursing as a true profession and defined what it means to be a nurse; created a model for hospital organization and administration that has been followed ever since; and established principles of caring and compassion that are still expressed in the Nightingale Pledge.

Florence Nightingale was also in a very real sense the first Emergency Nurse. Learning from experience each time another boatload of critical casualties docked at Scutari, she established principles of triage and first aid that would be familiar to any Emergency Nurse, and practices that are repeated in every disaster drill, of today.

The three most important words in my book The Florence Prescription are Proceed Until Apprehended. Like every emergency nurse, physician, and paramedic today, Nightingale appreciated how lives depend upon decisions being made and actions being taken with a profound sense of urgency. It is a spirit that has always animated emergency care. Proceed Until Apprehended is a reminder that to be an Emergency Nurse is also to be a leader.

I started my healthcare career in emergency medical services and was an EMT long before becoming an MBA. I’ve had the privilege of working with emergency care providers, and the blessing of having family members cared for by emergency nurses on many occasions. I appreciate you!

Happy Emergency Nurses Week from Values Coach!


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