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Home » Nurse Innovation: Saving the Future of Healthcare – Rebecca Love (Transcript)

Nurse Innovation: Saving the Future of Healthcare – Rebecca Love (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Rebecca Love’s talk titled “Nurse Innovation: Saving the Future of Healthcare” at TEDxBeaconStreet 2018 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Crimean War and Florence Nightingale

It was the year 1854 and the British government was entrenched in a bloody battle called the Crimean War. Florence Nightingale served as a volunteer on one of the floors of the wards where the soldiers were brought after they had been injured on the battlefield. Unlike women of her generation, she had been educated, and what she witnessed inspired her to pen a letter to the British government in which she wrote, “If you had wanted to create a place worse than hell, you have thus succeeded.”

For what she saw around her was that the soldiers were not dying from the injuries they sustained on the battlefield, but were dying from the death, disease, and infection that seemed to follow the physician from the bedside to the bedside to the bedside, as he did not wash his hands nor sterilize his medical equipment.

Conventional medical practice of the time believed that if you could not see it, it did not exist, and that germs were simply a figment of one’s imagination. But Florence Nightingale knew something was fundamentally wrong, and without the support of her physician colleagues, she implemented a policy of hygiene and sanitation among her support staff.

She had to be meticulous in her documentation, in her notes, and her follow-up, to prove that washing one’s hands and sterilization of medical equipment not only decreased rates of death and disease, but the centuries-long conventional medical practice had been wrong. Florence Nightingale challenged conventional medical practice.

She challenged the status quo to found nursing. And she officially led medicine out of the dark ages of practice and forever fundamentally changed the future of science, history, and medicine with the establishment of the profession of nursing. Today, there are nearly 19 million nurses worldwide and 4 million in the United States, making up roughly half of the U.S. healthcare workforce.

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