Florence Nightingale’s Example and Nurses’ Opportunities

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Nowadays, nurses are one of the largest groups of professionals who deal with health issues. The modern perception of nursing was shaped by such prominent figures as Florence Nightingale. She was not only a health care specialist; she was also a social and political activist. In this paper, I would like to give an example of the world-known nurse’s social activity and show how she changed my view of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and then consider how I could help advance these goals as a nurse, both with my colleagues and individually.

Florence Nightingale and my vision of MDGs

Florence Nightingale has influenced my vision of MDGs by showing me that we nurses can help reach them more than it seems at first glance. MDGs #4-6 are directly connected to medicine; therefore, it is clear that nurses can and should work towards them. What Beck, Dossey, and Rushton (n.d.) note are true; these MDGs cannot be achieved without nurses’ involvement. But it is not always obvious how nurses can help with the other issues. Still, Nightingale was able to affect virtually all of them; e.g., she collaborated with officials to address environmental problems and improve the health of the Indian community. United Nations (2015) include the issue of drinkable water in their report concerning MDG #7, and this issue is directly related to health. Therefore, nurses can use their professional status to influence this problem.

Three MDGs I can help advance

As a nurse, I can also help advance MDGs. For instance, it is known that the poor are much more susceptible to disease than the others; Ingstad, Munthali, Braathen, and Grut (2012) conclude that impoverished children with badly educated mothers suffer from malaria more often than their other peers. So, I can cooperate with my colleagues and join or establish professional organizations and use our professional status together to draw the media’s attention to the fact that poverty and absence of education lead to disease (malaria in particular), and that there is no real way to combat diseases except for fighting poverty and the lack of education. It is important to make society aware of these problems because then they will look more favorably at those politicians who address these issues. The people’s favorable opinion is crucial for politicians to be elected; so, we can contact politicians and point out that the issue is spoken about, and they should use less money on weapons and more on humanitarian help. Such tactics might prove useful in helping advance MDGs # 1, 2, and 6, and not only them. Surely, it won’t be easy – working with the media, the public, politicians, etc. will consume time and effort. But the possible outcomes are worth it.

How nurses can help advance MDGs

Our community of nurses can also help advance MDGs in other ways. For instance, it appears that nowadays quite many people are concerned with environmental problems (MDG #7). As nurses, we can not only draw public attention to issues that affect global health; we also have the status to involve other people in environmental protection and help form grassroots organizations to address the problem. The activists can affect the situation in an above-explained way. If there are more of us, we can organize demonstrations to attract the attention of the media to ecological (and, in fact, many other) problems. We can also organize volunteer events and help with local environmental issues. And, of course, every nurse can provide help individually, e.g. by volunteering in local orphanages and caring about the youngest (MDG # 4).


As we have seen, such prominent figures as Florence Nightingale still can show us the path to take not only in local but also in global issues. Following her example, I can use my professional status to draw the public attention to many issues, including MDGs, which would push politicians toward solving them. I could also involve other people in such activities. Finally, nurses can always help with many problems by offering their help as volunteers.


Beck, D.-M., Dossey, B., & Rushton, C. H. (n.d.). Florence Nightingale: Connecting her legacy with local-to-global health today. Web.

Ingstad, B., Munthali, A., Braathen, S., & Grut, L. (2012). Malaria Journal, 1, 11-15. Web.

United Nations. (2015). Web.

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