Marlena Primeau

Marlena Primeau


Over the past few months, I’ve been struck by the resemblance between what we’re hearing every day on radio, tv, and social media and the foundational principles of modern nursing care. In her day, Florence Nightingale was considered a rebel and visionary, and her worldview of health and nursing is both apropos and significant to the current global situation and resultant health initiatives. Recommendations from the World Health Organization (2020), Centers for Disease Control (2020), and national health initiatives around the world have striking similarities in both focus and content to what Nightingale wrote in Notes on Nursing (Nightingale, 1859). On a fundamental level, today’s healthcare authorities concur with Nightingale’s belief that health care basics are crucial, should be available to all, and need not be either costly or complex. Nightingale’s focus on healing practices, and the current focus on promoting health through basic public health habits are, at heart, the same core paradigm. Although causes and processes may be different, there are four areas crucial to good health that are clearly identified by both Nightingale in 1859 and in COVID-19 health initiatives in 2020: healthy habits, nutrition and exercise, stress reduction and emotional support, and a healthy environment (Nightingale, 1859; US Department of Health and Human Services, 2020). It is fascinating that Nightingale, simply through close observation and empirical data, was able to identify the same cornerstones of good health, such as handwashing, personal hygiene, and a healthy environment, that are currently foremost in today’s evidence-based arsenal in combatting COVID-19. She also emphasized the importance of stress reduction and social support, which, again, are today being emphasized and promoted through professional advice and social media for psychological health during lockdown and self-quarantine. Nightingale’s work is and always has been pivotal, not only to the profession of nursing, but to health and the quality of life in general. Health initiatives for COVID-19 owe a great deal to Nightingale’s vision and determination to promote health for all.

COVID-19 has heightened awareness of the need for robust clinical nursing skills, whether in the hospital or in the community. Many of us have felt the need to help more and in better ways during this crisis, and earning a graduate degree can go a long way toward reaching that goal. Graduate nursing degrees are vital in providing the expertise and credibility needed to support health practices that allow our patients to thrive, even in the midst of an extraordinary global crisis. Whether in the community, long-term care, or the hospital, the fundamental principles identified by Nightingale and confirmed by generations of healthcare professionals are at the core of what we do, and are clearly as essential today as they were in Nightingale’s time.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019: How to protect yourself and others. Retrieved from:

Nightingale, F. (1859). Notes on nursing: What it is, and what it is not. London: Harrison.

US Department of Health and Human Services (2020). Healthy People 2020. Retrieved from:

World Health Organization (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. Retrieved from:



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