Did you know that the Nightingale pledge is actually a modified version of the Hippocratic Oath? While the Hippocratic Oath was written in the 5th century, it wasn’t until many years later in 1893 that nurses decided to create their own version. However, Florence Nightingale didn’t actually write this pledge. The pledge recited by millions of nurses around the world was actually written in her honor by Lystra Gretter and a committee from the Farrand Training School for Nurses in Detroit Michigan.
WHAT IS THE NIGHTINGALE PLEDGE?
The Nightingale Pledge is a declaration of ethics and principle standards for the nursing profession. Similar to the ANA Code of Ethics, it provides nurses with a road map for professional responsibilities and conduct. Although adapted over the years, similar principles remain.
Most often, nurses recite this pledge during their pinning ceremonies, reflecting their transition from student to nurse, or at the time of graduation. I can remember how it felt to recite the Florence Nightingale’s pledge during my pinning ceremony. I was overwhelmed with emotion and felt that I was joining a very sacred and noble group of human beings who were called to serve the sick. I actually remember my pinning ceremony more than my graduation!
THE ORIGINAL PLEDGE (1893)
I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.
I shall abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and shall not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I shall do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.
I shall be loyal to my work and devoted towards the welfare of those committed to my care.
Reciting the Nightingale pledge in front of our families, friends, peers and nursing instructors is something most nurses never forget.
Or have we?
Recently, my business coach asked me to get really clear about my business. What I wanted to be known for, what legacy I wanted to leave; to get clear on my purpose, my passion, my vision and my WHY. She asked me to create a promise to my team and make a commitment to the people I serve. I spent a lot of reflecting on these questions over the last few weeks, which is not easy for me to do. How I started this reflection was by going back to the beginning – back to Florence Nightingale and the pledge I made 27 years ago. The same pledge YOU made.
I re-read the pledge and then adapted it to reflect how I want to show up everyday for the amazing humans on my team and the extraordinary nurses and leaders I serve.
I thought you might appreciate reading the pledge I created over the last few weeks and hope that you will create your own pledge, especially now that you’ve been practicing for a bit.
Spend some time thinking about your nursing practice, how you’ve grown over the years and now how you show up every day. Think about the many, many patients and families whom you’ve served over the years and how you’ve impacted them in some way. Think about your colleagues – other nurses, support staff, physicians, etc. and how they have helped transform you into the nurse you are today.
What did this pledge mean to you then?
What does it mean to you now?
I’d love to read YOUR updated pledge in the comments below. You can also join my tribe of other amazing nurses on my Facebook Page. Click here to post your pledge and join other dedicated, compassionate, and committed nurses who get it – nursing is a calling – not a job! As Florence Nightingale so eloquently conveyed, “I shall do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.”
Join the movement to a competent, compassionate, and committed nursing workforce!
Take care. Be kind. Stay connected.
Helping you cultivate a healthy happy workforce,