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Young people 'unaware of Florence Nightingale legacy'


A third of young people do not know why Florence Nightingale is a celebrated figure, according to a new opinion poll that gathered views from the general public about the nursing profession.

The surprising finding comes from a survey carried out before International Nurses’ Day on 12 May, the anniversary of Ms Nightingale’s birthday.

The survey also revealed that 64% of the 18-to-24-year-olds taking part had never considered a nursing career.

However, across the 2,000 people taking part in the online poll, 78% said they had ruled it out as a career.

Of those that said they had not considered nursing as a profession, 40% said it was “not in my nature” and 30% said it was because it seemed a very hard job.

survey solution 

When asked what was important to them in their choice of career, 78% of respondents stated they wanted job satisfaction, while 30% rated a large salary as important.

Just 20% said working in a job that that helps someone else was important to them.

Meanwhile, only 15% of the 18-to-24-year-old respondents were suggested nursing as a career option at school.

The survey, carried out on behalf of private hospital The London Clinic, also revealed that only 7% of those taking part wanted to or wished they had pursued a career in nursing.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

The London Clinic’s director of nursing Nuala Close said the results showed the diversity of nursing roles available needed to be better promoted, as well as the room for progression.

She said: “I feel we have an obligation to promote nursing and make it better understood as a profession. The role of a nurse… has changed enormously over the last few decades”

“Whether you aspire to be a community nurse or a director of nursing at a major hospital, there are a million different roles to choose from within this profession,” said Ms Close.

“This is what needs to be promoted and this is what young people need to see, a profession, with potential to train, specialise and progress whilst making a difference to the lives of people in need on a daily basis,” she added.


Readers' comments (5)

  • I have to admit I always thought of Florence as a good early administrator but had never realised the depth of her talents before seeing the BBC programme "the beauty of diagrams" which showed her as an amazing user of statistical evidence to prove a point. Check out her Rose Diagram!

    Mind you, I don't know what she would make of the NHS funding gap - perhaps that explains why 78% have ruled nursing out as a career...

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  • NHS is a company and it is looking after the top end of the scale then work your way down. your will find the actual hands on care and thought every day we are treating people ! not shipping them in on a belt and packeting them and sending them away.
    the is only one care that is to help people in their truma,if they carnt eat or drink help them,be there when patents wont to talk,
    just to give people some time,you will find the people that do this also have to tidy up other peoples mess up because they haven't got time, get jobs passed on to them because they have a lot of paperwork
    so as these people that find time to care.
    its all down to respect,team work,and never assume what people can do as a lot of talented people that work that work at the lower end of care but they are the best because they find time to care.

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  • Don't they watch Blue Peter any more? I seem to remember there would be an item about her every year. I don't remember ever hearing her mentioned in history lessons.

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  • nursing is so imbued with her ideas it would be impossible to forget her even though I have never read anything formal about her work or life but tend to amend that as well as reading about Edith Cavell and Mrs Seacole - oh that one had more time for such interesting indulgences.

    good comment from Phil above and looks like a good starting point.

    actually come to think of it, I did read and enjoy a well known book at the time as a student entitled 'Miss Nightingale's Ladies' but the content is long since forgotten but I am sure I still have the book at home.

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  • My daughter has obtained a place at uni to train as an adult nurse aged 24 after working for 18 months as a community home carer and enjoying this work. She was inspired by meeting district nurses in patient's homes and seeing what their role involved.

    I don't think nursing was ever suggested to her at school as a career option, teachers are surprisingly ignorant of the diverse roles available in the NHS today. Some are keen to point students towards non-useful degree course such as arts subjects and media studies these days.

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