By Christine Moffa, who was AJN clinical editor at the time it was written in 2010.

Authors and publishers frequently send nursing– and health care–related books to AJN in hopes we will review them. I love it, so keep on sending them. My latest read is Mystery at Marian Manor: The Adventures of Nora Brady, Student Nursea book for young adults. I guess you could call it a Cherry Ames for the new millennium.

At the beginning of the book is the Florence Nightingale Pledge, something I haven’t read since my graduation in 1995. I have to say it made me cringe. It’s almost as bad as when I visit my parents and see the nursing school graduation photo of me in that silly nursing cap I wore under protest. (If the men didn’t have to wear it, why did I?) If you’ve forgotten the pledge, here goes:

I solemnly pledge myself before God and presence of this assembly;
To pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.
I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous
and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I will 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 family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.
With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work,
and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

While it’s hard to disagree with some elements of the pledge, certain parts prompted me to Google the phrase “Florence Nightingale pledge out of date.” I’m pleased to report that I am not alone in wondering about this. Donna Cardillo at NursePower! had a similar reaction this past December [editor’s note: the blog post quoted below is no longer found at the url, so we cut it]:

I recently came across the Florence Nightingale pledge, the one I took 35 years ago when I graduated from a hospital-based diploma nursing program. When reading it on the eve of the year 2010, it occurs to me that it needs to be updated to better reflect where nursing practice is today.

Here’s my updated version: “I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to live my life with integrity and to practice my profession faithfully. With dedication will I endeavor to uphold the ethical, scientific, and legal standards of my profession, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

In the spirit of evidence-based practice—questioning why we do things just because they’ve always been done that way—I wonder if it’s time for an overhaul of  the pledge. How would you revise it?

Bookmark and Share