On the Road with Sue Hassmiller as she traces the work of the legendary Florence Nightingale . . .

On her upcoming summer vacation, Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Senior Advisor for Nursing, will be pursuing a dream to learn more about the life and work of the legendary Florence Nightingale. She’ll be traveling through Europe on a special tour developed in honor of the centennial of Nightingale’s death. In this and upcoming blog posts, Hassmiller reports on her trip, what she learns, and what it means to nurses’ work today. (Addendum: click here for the full series of posts.)

Sue Hassmiller, ready to blog

Eighteen years old and “hot to trot.” That’s what I thought I was. Having just been admitted into nursing school, I was set to change the world…one patient at a time. They tried to teach me about Florence Nightingale, but she was someone from the past…not likely to help me learn to start IVs, put in catheters, or run ventilators. If there were iPods back then, I would have used mine to avoid lessons about how Florence Nightingale changed the face of nursing forever. What an exaggeration, I thought! There was nothing to be learned from her…so I tuned out every last bit of it. 

But that was then…and here I am now, in awe of one of the most remarkable human beings who ever lived. What prompted me, all these years later, to embark on a total Florence Nightingale immersion? And instead of using my iPod to tune out, I’m using every form of technology I can to learn more about her. What did it take for me to want to spend my precious time learning more about this remarkable woman? A couple of things…

All roads lead to Florence. First, I’m currently Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine. Here I go again, trying to get to the future…only this time I’m not 18, I’m older and a bit wiser. I no longer think I’m hot to trot, and I know that to look into the future you must first delve into and learn from the past. And with that perspective, all roads lead back to Florence Nightingale. Sure, there were other women (and now men) who did a lot to improve the practice of nursing…but none as comprehensively as Ms. Nightingale. 

Now I’m about to leave on a very special Florence Nightingale “study tour” to London, Embley Park, England (Nightingale’s childhood home) and Turkey. I don’t want to embarrass myself by not knowing the basics of her vast accomplishments. After all, I will be traveling with people who view themselves as Florence Nightingale “scholars.” It’s a bit intimidating for someone who is merely a beginning student.

I plan to blog as I go on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, so I hope you’ll check back for more reports from the road.

Bookmark and Share