As we commemorate Nightingale’s birth anniversary, we turn our focus to the hardships faced by nurses during their careers, especially nurses in Iran. Through their unwavering dedication and resilience, these healthcare professionals continue to make a difference in the lives of countless individuals, and subsequently their families.
But first, let’s take a look at Florence Nightingale’s life.
The lady with the lamp
Nightingale’s dedication to nursing earned her the nickname “The Lady with the Lamp.” During the Crimean War (1853-1856), she would make nightly rounds to check on wounded soldiers, carrying a lamp to light her way. In the book ‘The Life of Florence Nightingale’ by E.T. Cook, a soldier is quoted saying, “She would speak to one here and there and nod and smile to many more; but she could not do it all, you know. We lay there by hundreds; but we could kiss her shadow as it fell and lay our heads on the pillow again, content.”
Nightingale’s impact on nursing
Nightingale’s work during that horrific war led to significant improvements in sanitation, nutrition, and patient care. In her book, ‘Notes on Nursing’, she wrote, “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.” Her emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene revolutionized nursing practices and saved countless lives.
In 1860, Nightingale established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. In the same book, she puts forth the idea that “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.” Her school laid the foundation for modern nursing education and professional standards.
Advocacy for healthcare reform
Nightingale was also a tireless advocate for healthcare reform, using her influence to improve hospital conditions and promote public health. In her book ‘Suggestions for Thought’, she stated, “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.” Her work eventually led to the establishment of the International Red Cross and the World Health Organization.
In Mark Bostridge’s scholarly book, ‘Florence Nightingale: The Making of an Icon’, Nightingale is quoted advising everybody to “Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.”
This fabulous quote could serve very well as a call to action, urging individuals to take risks and make bold moves towards progress. It encourages people to embrace change and take on challenges, rather than remaining stagnant and passive. The metaphor of dying in the surf refers to the idea of facing obstacles and difficulties head-on, even if it means risking failure or hardship. By doing so, one can pave the way for a better future and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
The second part of the quote, brilliantly emphasizes the importance of taking action rather than standing idly by. It suggests that inaction is worse than failure, as it leads to stagnation and lack of progress. By taking risks and forging ahead, individuals can create a path towards a new world, one that is better and more promising than the present.
This quote is particularly relevant for nurses and healthcare professionals, who are constantly faced with challenges and obstacles in their line of work. It encourages them to be brave and innovative in their approach, always striving for improvement and progress in their field.
The challenges of nursing
Nurses are the backbone of healthcare systems, providing essential care and support to patients in need. However, their profession is fraught with challenges, including long hours, emotional strain, and physical demands. In Iran, nurses face additional hurdles, such as limited resources in light of cruel sanctions imposed on the country.
Nurses often work long shifts, sometimes up to 12 hours or more, with few breaks. This can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, affecting their well-being and ability to provide optimal care. Fatemeh, a nurse who works in one of Tehran’s hospitals, shares her experience, saying, “We work tirelessly, often without proper rest. The emotional toll of seeing patients suffer, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been overwhelming.”
Due to sanctions put in place by the west on our country, many professions face extra hardships. Nurses, specifically, often grapple with limited resources and inadequate staffing these days, which can hinder their ability to deliver quality care. Additionally, cultural barriers can create misunderstandings and tension between nurses and patients. Maryam, a nurse from Mashhad, explains, “We do our best with what resources we have, but it can be frustrating when we can’t provide the level of care we know our patients deserve. Sometimes, patients and their families don’t understand our role, and this can lead to conflicts.”
International sanctions have led to shortages of medical supplies and equipment, making it difficult for nurses to provide the best possible care. As Tehran-based nurse, Ali, says, “It’s disheartening when we can’t access the tools we need to save lives.”
The Resilience of
Despite these challenges, Iranian nurses continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience and dedication to their profession. They have shown incredible strength during the COVID-19 pandemic, working on the frontlines to care for patients and save lives.
Nurses like Zahra, who works in a COVID-19 ward in Isfahan, embody this resilience. “We have faced so many challenges, but we continue to fight for our patients. We are proud to be nurses, and we will not give up.” Let us never forget the unwavering commitment and resilience of nurses worldwide, those unsung heroes whose single purpose in life is to alleviate human suffering; particularly nurses in Iran who face unique challenges. Their dedication to their profession, despite the hardships they encounter, is a testament to their strength and compassion.