It was a hidden treasure, tucked away in a dark basement. But the beautiful oil painting of Florence Nightingale now graces a wall in the new Center for Health Sciences Education, thanks to the nurses of "Cohort 3." The Master of Science in Nursing Administration alumni, who graduated in December 2009, presented the Department of Nursing with the painting, as a token of their appreciation for learning and growth.
How did the idea of the painting evolve? What is the story behind it?
We wanted to give a gift to the Nursing Department on the opening of the new Center for Health Sciences Education and were looking for something that represented nursing—and would be a lasting and meaningful expression of our appreciation. A co-worker had the old painting in her basement and offered it to us; she felt it truly belonged with the nurses at Ambrose. Come to find out, it originally came from a hospital in Illinois. We had it reframed, and it was perfect.
What does Florence Nightingale mean to you?
This is Florence Nightingale’s centenary year (1820-1910) and it is only fitting that we take inspiration from her. Florence was a pioneer in nursing. Her futuristic ideas about preventive health care, infection control, nursing theory, nursing leadership and use of statistics to improve research and outcomes have influenced the practice of nursing more than the ideas of any other nurse. Florence advised students to “grow their roots deep before spreading their branches too far.” Our degree advancement through St. Ambrose has fed our roots, allowing us to stand strong and spread our branches toward the future of nursing. It is our sincere hope that future generations of nursing students at St. Ambrose will do the same. We are all part of her legacy.
What would you say is the essence of nursing?
The essence of nursing is caring and vigilance: the ability to combine knowledge and critical thinking, advocacy and leadership, and caring and empathy—all to enrich the lives of those we care for. Nightingale recognized the importance of vigilance in nursing. She wrote:
"The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe, how to observe—what symptoms indicate improvement—what the reverse—which are of importance—which are of none—which are evidence of neglect—and of what kind of neglect. All this is what ought to make part, and an essential part, of the training of every nurse."
What are your hopes for students who will study at the new Center?
It is our most sincere hope that all nurses who graduate from St. Ambrose will be as passionate about nursing as Florence was and realize the significance they can play in caring for others.
Angela Overton, MSN, RN, Stroke Coordinator, GMC Davenport
Amber Willenbring, MSN, RN
Deb Morse, MSN, RN, Quality Manager, Genesis VNA & Hospice
Cindy Skipton, MSN, RN, Manager, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, GMC Davenport
Denise Westendorf, MSN, RN, Nursing Outcomes Specialist, GMC Davenport
Deb Fox, MSN, RN, Quality Specialist, Genesis Health System