Nightingale’s Pledge

As professionals who deal with people’s lives, we live by an oath – a vow promising to always be devoted to our profession, its principles and our aim of saving lives. Usually, depending on the school’s policy, the moment an aspirant graduates or attends the pinning ceremony, he/she does a pledge, reciting the nurse’s commitment and loyalty to the profession.

This pledge is also often included in programs honoring nurses during Nurses Week (May 6-12 each year) or on Nurses Day (May 6 each year) since May 12 is the anniversary of the birth date of Florence Nightingale.

Nightingale’s Pledge: A background

As most know, before practicing their profession, doctors first recite a pledge called the Hippocratic Oath. Nurses also have their own modified version. The pledge was named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, as a token of esteem. It is sometimes ascribed wrongly to Miss Nightingale’s authorship. At the time it was written, the pledge reflected the nurse’s commitment to moral and ethical values and principles in the practice of nursing, by late 19th century standards.

The original Florence Nightingale pledge was created in 1893 by a committee led by Lystra Gretter. Gretter updated the final sentence of the pledge to reflect a more public health model in 1935. This pledge has been the symbol of a nurse’s values (American Nurses Association, 2006). In reciting this, a nurse commits to “faithfully practice” her profession and to practice proper ethical values, however because of the controversies surrounding this pledge many nursing schools are either dropping or altering it to suit their graduation ceremonies (Domrose, 2001).

Original “Florence Nightingale Pledge”

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practise my profession faithfully.
I shall abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and shall not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I shall 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 all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.
I shall be loyal to my work and devoted towards the welfare of those committed to my care.

1935 revised version

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practise 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 all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.
With loyalty will I aid the physician in his work, and as a missioner of health, I will dedicate myself to devoted service for human welfare.

“Practical Nurse Pledge”

Before God and those assembled here, I solemnly pledge;
To adhere to the code of ethics of the nursing profession;
To co-operate faithfully with the other members of the nursing team and do carryout [sic] faithfully and to the best of my ability the instructions of the physician or the nurse who may be assigned to supervise my work;
I will not do anything evil or malicious and I will not knowingly give any harmful drug or assist in malpractice.
I will not reveal any confidential information that may come to my knowledge in the course of my work.
And I pledge myself to do all in my power to raise the standards and prestige of the practical nursing;
May my life be devoted to service and to the high ideals of the nursing profession.

 

Sources:

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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