Nursing through the ages

16th May 2008 at 01:00
Florence Nightingale is not the only pioneer of nursing
Florence Nightingale is not the only pioneer of nursing. But she is the one everyone has heard of. So when young Lucy came home from school one day and told her mum they were starting a project on the Victorians, a lamp lit up in Alison McLennan's head.

"International Nurses Day is May 12, which is Florence Nightingale's birthday," says the senior lecturer at The Robert Gordon University's school of nursing and midwifery.

"So I thought it would be good to organise a visit from my daughter's school, on that day, to show the kids what modern nursing is about and compare it with what it used to be like in Victorian times."

Forty P6 pupils from Albyn School, Aberdeen made the short trip to the university's Garthdee campus, where nursing students and staff treated them to a two-hour practical introduction to the profession.

"It was very hands-on," says Alison. "They enjoyed that. They learned how to really wash their hands. They got to dress up in Victorian and modern nursing uniforms - that was a big hit. They spent time in our clinical skills centre, which has lots of high-tech, computerised equipment.

"The message was that nursing is exciting, that we use technology, that it takes intelligence. We talked about it being a profession for boys as well as girls. We didn't push all that, because they were only 10. But we did want to give them things to think about, as well as to do."

Previous contact with local schools had been aimed at older, secondary pupils. But the interest and enthusiasm the visit generated in the primary children means the School of Nursing will open its doors to the young ones again, next time the Lady of the Lamp's birthday comes around.

There is more than history to the connection, says Alison MacLennan. "Florence Nightingale was a woman who worked very hard. But she was also a visionary. She knew what was wrong and she tried to put it right.

"Nursing is about hard work. But it's about much more than that. It's about looking past the here and now and trying to see what is needed for the future."

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