Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge

Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge


In 1893, Lystra Grettter led a committee at the Farrand Training School for nurses in Detroit, Michigan, which came out with the Nightingale pledge for nurses. The name “Nightingale” was meant to honour Florence Nightingale. Nightingale is the famous British founder of the nursing profession, commonly known as “the lady with a lamp”. Although the original version of the pledge has undergone several variations to fit the modern field of nursing, the pledge retains its original purpose- to make the graduating nurses swear and express their intentions to uphold good values in their profession and fulfil their responsibilities. According to American Nurses Association (2006), the Nightingale Pledge has been a symbol of the values upheld in nursing. Noteworthy, the pledge has attracted debate over its applicability in the modern field of nursing, especially because the field has changed from its initial status as a “female-only” field of practice to a modern area that involves both genders. Arguably, although there is some need for students in the medical field to express their intentions of fulfilling their responsibilities in the crucial field (pledging), the original pledge is outdated and needs restructuring and rewording in order to fit the modern context. Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

What is the purpose Nightingale pledge?

The nightingale pledge, written by Gretter-led committee, was meant to ensure that nurses uphold good values and take their responsibilities with dedication in order to serve the sick. According to Domrose (2001), by reciting the statement, nurses were expected to commit to practice their professions and to ensure that they practice ethical values. According to American Nursing Association (2006), taking an oath is a symbol of a person’s promise to abide to ethical values and rules. Therefore, some sources argue that all licensed workers should pledge as a way of assuring the public of good values, ethics and the appropriate behaviour in their work. In addition, Fry and Veatch (2005) argue that nursing is one of the most critical professions because it involves dedicating services to the sick and doing everything possible to maintain someone’s life. Consequently, Fry and Veatch (2005) have argued that the profession needs a pledge because it relies heavily on the personal values of the individual nurse.

After the foundation of nursing as a relatively new field after the death of Florence Nightingale, the medical profession realised the need for values, skills and personal dedication of professionals in the new field, following the example of Lady Nightingale. Thus, the was need for these new professionals to pledge by word of mouth that they, like physicians, will uphold ethics and personal dedication in taking their responsibilities in the field. Therefore, to follow the long-held custom of training physicians, a nursing pledge was necessary. The Gretter-led committee at Michigan was inspired by Florence Nightingale’s work and dedication. They modified physician’s Hippocratic Oath in order to fit in the field of nursing. One of the main vows in the pledge is “…to abstain from all harmful and/or mischievous actions in the field…” In addition, it makes the nurses vow to “…passionately seek to help and nurse the patients in any location and any form of need…” (Fry & Veatch, 2005). Another role was included in the pledge by Gretter’s commission in 1935, which included the oath to become a “missionary of health” dedicated to “advance human welfare” and “expansion of the nursing profession” Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge

Ethical benefits and limitations of Nightingale Pledge

The pledge has been an imperative guiding tool in the field of nursing, which makes professionals in the field dedicate their life and service to the sick. It has always encouraged or forced nurses to provide services to the ill, regardless of their location, needs or conditions. In fact, some proponents of the pledge have argued that it was one of the guiding and motivating factors behind the dedicated work of European and America medical missionaries in some parts of the world, especially in Africa during the 20th century. In addition, the words and phrases of the pledge have contributed significantly to the work of nurses in various international organizations, including the Red Cross/Crescent association, Doctors without Boarders and St. John’s Ambulance, which have worked to bring medical and nursing services to people in remote areas of the world, including Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Africa. In addition, the pledge has also been instrumental in encouraging and motivating nurses to work in dangerous conditions such as serving in times of war, civil and military violence, disasters and other dangerous events.

Despite this, the Nightingale pledge has a number of limitations, some of which have attracted debate on its applicability in the modern context. For instance, it was written when the nursing field was purely a field of female professionals. In fact, men were not allowed to take career in nursing. Thus, the original pledge restricts the field to the female-only profession.

Secondly, the original pledge written by Gretter’s committee in 1893 has the phrase “…to pay loyalty to my physicians…” This phrase has been a form of limitation to the pledge because it has an effect of rendering the nursing field inferior to physicians. In addition, it makes nurses appear less independent because they have to “pledge loyalty to the physicians. It seems that the pledge assumes that nurses still take orders from physicians.

The Nightingale Pledge controversy

Over the decades, the pledge has received criticism as well as appraisals. As mentioned above, two major areas of concern arise from its restriction of the nursing field to women and rendering the field less significant and inferior to medicine.

According to Demrose (2001), several ambiguous words are evident in the original pledge, which is forcing nurses to seek to update the pledge. For instance, the meaning of the word “purity” is controversial since it can have a number of meanings depending on the interpretation and interpreter.

Therefore, some nursing schools have altered the pledge. In addition, others have decided to drop it altogether. However, this has also raised another concern because nurses will be pledging differently. Others will fail to pledge. If they interpret their roles, then they will be doing things differently. This phenomenon is likely to cause gratuitous conflicts among the medical practitioners.

According to McBurney and Filoromo (1994), the qualifications of Florence Nightingale are doubtable. For instance, it is arguable whether she deserves such an honour. For instance, she prevented a mixed-race nurse in Britain by the name Mary Saeacole to work with her in her hospital during the Crimean War (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1999). This behaviour suggests that Nightingale must have been “a racist”, which is one of the negative behaviours discouraged in the modern practice. Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge


Nightingale pledge is an essential way through which nurses express their ability to take responsibilities. It shows their intention to be dedicated in their work, uphold good values and ethics and apply patient-friendly behaviour. The pledge is also necessary in ensuring that nurses tend to the sick, regardless of their location, needs and conditions. In addition, the pledge has motivated nurses as well as other practitioners in the medical field to work with dedication, humility and in areas where such threats as war, violence and disasters are evident. However, it is worth noting that the original pledge has a number of limitations, which makes it very controversial. For instance, it has a number of ambiguous words and phrases that make it less applicable in the modern field. Although the original version of the pledge has undergone several variations to fit the modern field of nursing, the pledge retains its original purpose- to make the graduating nurses swear and express their intentions to uphold good values in their profession and fulfil their responsibilities. From this analysis, it is worth arguing that the pledge is important in the modern field, but it needs rewording and restructuring in order to update it and make sure it fits the modern context of nursing. Students in nursing should express their intentions of fulfilling their responsibilities in the crucial field by pledging. However, the original pledge is outdated and needs restructuring and rewording in order to fit the modern context. Florence Nightingale: to Pledge or Not to Pledge


Calculate The Price Of Your Paper

{{total || ""}}

Why Choose Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

Customer Support 24/7

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.


Essay Writing Services

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.


Admission and Business Papers

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.


Editing and Proofreading

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.


Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.