The American Nurses Association

Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses may be differentiated from other health care providers by their approach to patient care, training, and scope of practice. Nurses practice in a wide diversity of practice areas with a different scope of practice and level of prescriber authority in each.

Many nurses provide care within the ordering scope of physicians, and this traditional role has come to shape the historic public image of nurses as care providers. However, nurses are permitted by most jurisdictions to practice independently in a variety of settings depending on training level. In the postwar period, nurse education has undergone a process of diversification towards advanced and specialized credentials, and many of the traditional regulations and provider roles are changing.

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) states nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations. Traditional nursing Before the foundation of modern nursing, nuns and the military often provided nursing-like services. [2] The Christian churches have been long term patrons of nursing and influential in the development of the ethos of modern nursing.

Elsewhere, other nursing traditions developed, such as in Islam From its earliest days, and following the edicts of Jesus, Christianity had encouraged its devotees to tend the sick. Priests were often also physicians. According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey, while pagan religions seldom offered help to the infirm, the early Christians were willing to nurse the sick and take food to them – notably during the small pox epidemic of AD 165-180 and the measles outbreak of around AD 250 and that “In nursing the sick and dying, regardless of religion, the Christians won friends and sympathisers”.

[3] Christian emphasis on practical charity gave rise to the development of systematic nursing and hospitals after the end of the persecution of the early church. [4] Ancient church leaders like St. Benedict of Nursia (480) emphasised medicine as an aid to the provision of hospitality. [5] Ancient Catholic orders like the Dominicans and Carmelites have long lived in religious communities that work for the care of the sick.

[6] The religious and military roots of modern nursing remain in evidence today in many countries, for example in the United Kingdom, senior female nurses are known as sisters. Nurses execute the “Orders” of other health care professionals in addition to being responsible for their own practice. The first nurse, was Phoebe, mentioned in Romans 16:1. During the early years of the Christian Church, St. Paul sent a deaconess Phoebe to Rome as the first visiting nurse. She took care of both women and men. [7]

According to Geoffrey Blainey, during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church in Europe provided many of the services of a welfare state: “It conducted hospitals for the old and orphanages for the young; hospices for the sick of all ages; places for the lepers; and hostels or inns where pilgrims could buy a cheap bed and meal”. It supplied food to the population during famine and distributed food to the poor. This welfare system the church funded through collecting taxes on a large scale and possessing large farmlands and estates. [8] Monasteries of this era were diligent in the study of medicine, as were convents.

The Eastern Orthodox Church had established many hospitals in the Mid East, but following the rise of Islam from the 7th century, Arabic medicine developed in this region, where a number of important advances were made and an Islamic tradition of nursing begun. Arab ideas were later influential in Europe. The famous Knights Hospitaller arose as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in Jerusalem, which was built to provide care for poor, sick or injured Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Following the capture of the city by Crusaders, the order became a military as well as infirmarian order. [9]

A number of saints and orders like the Franciscans are recalled for tending the sick during the devastating bubonic plagues, but these events exposed the near impotence of the Medieval medicine to explain disease and prompted critical examination. [10] During the Reformation of the 16th century, Protestant reformers shut down the monasteries and convents, allowing a few to continue in operation hundred municipal hospices. Those nuns who had been serving as nurses were given pensions or told to get married and stay home. [11] in Catholic nations and religiously tolerant areas however, the role of the nursing sister continued uninterrupted.