The history of nursing spans from the history of human kind. For as long as there has been life, there has been the need to provide care and comfort to those suffering from illness and injury.
From the dawn of civilization, evidence prevails to support the premise that nurturing has been essential to the preservation of life. Survival of the human race, therefore, is in inextricably intertwined with the development of nursing.
Nursing has been called the oldest of the arts and the youngest of the profession. The word nurse evolved from the Latin word nutritious, which means nourishing.
The roots of medicine and nursing are intertwining and found in mythology, ancient eastern and western cultures and religion.
Nursing is defined by various authors at various times. Hansderson says 'nursing is primarily assisting the individuals (sick or well) in the performances of those activities, contributing or its recovery (or to a peaceful death) that he would perform unaided, if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.
The unique contribution of nursing is to help the individual to be independent or such assistance as soon as possible.
The International Council Of Nurses defines' Nursing is to assist the individual, sick or well in the performance of those activities contributing to health or to its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge. And to do this in such a way as to help in gain independence as rapidly as possible.
Nursing, besides being a honourable profession, is one of the oldest arts and an essential modern occupation. Nursing is one of the greatest of humanitarian services and all people whether ill or well, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, young or old, at work or at play, in or out of hospital, are in some way or other, directly or indirectly closely associated with it.
Nursing has its own body of knowledge scientifically based and humanitarianism that promises expanded benefits to people and society. It assists the individual or family to achieve their potential for self-direction for health.
Nursing is not only an applied science, it is also an art, which provides skillful care for the sick in appropriate relationship with the patient, family, physician and with others who have related responsibilities.
It is concerned equally with the prevention of illness and the conservation of health. Skillful nursing care embraces the whole person, body, mind and soul, his physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being (holistic approach).
In its broadest sense, nursing covers not only the care of the sick, the aged, the helpless and the handicapped, but also cares for the promotion of health and prevention of illness.
The arts of nursing had its birth in the earliest home where a mother cared for the well being of the rest members of the family. It is this mother care that through the ages developed into a skilled art and a well-organized science.
It will be interesting to know and understand the vast changes that nursing has passed through, in order to meet the needs of a changing civilization.
A study of the development of nursing will throw light on some of the problems of the past, how they have been solved and how nursing has progressed rapidly despite various hindrances.
The paternal and maternal instinct in a human being is the main source of the nursing impulse, and is found in the hearts of people of all ages. A mother's care for her sick child always found expression in such acts to alleviate pain and help the child to get better.
In a society, the noblest forms of humanitarianism are showing mercy, love and kindness to those in physical or mental distress. When this impulse or hmotive is re-enforced by religious philosophies and beliefs, it inspires people to live a life of service and of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.
Along with this spirit, special training and experience has made nursing an ideal and useful profession.