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William F. Connell School of Nursing

From the Dean

photograph: gary wayne gilbert

Photo of Dean Susan Gennaro

Dear Friends,

The best clinicians don’t do things the way they have always been done. They ask questions, collect data, and ultimately use what they learn to improve health care. In many cases, they also use their research to influence health care policy. That is what Florence Nightingale did during and after the Crimean War, as shown in a recent exhibit at the Burns Library featuring some of Nightingale's correspondence and an early edition of her textbook, Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not.

Working in a hospital where soldiers were 10 times more likely to die from diseases like typhus, cholera, and dysentery than from battle wounds, Nightingale pioneered modern nursing practices such as cleanliness and predicting health outcomes. She also tested her observations, shared her data, and advocated for sanitary living conditions that would change the way health care was delivered.

After the war, Nightingale wrote a report and used statistical evidence she had gathered to show that significant changes in health care delivery were essential to survival in military hospitals. Invited to meet Queen Victoria, Nightingale enlisted the queen's support insetting up a royal commission that would investigate what had gone wrong during the war in Turkey and learn from the mistakes.

The best educators don't simply transmit information others have discovered, tried, and tested. They do the research, test it, and develop and expand the knowledge that the next generation needs to improve care. Nightingale's letters and textbook highlight her efforts to ensure that instructors in her nursing school taught students that evidence-based practice was the best way to make clinical decisions.

At the William F. Connell School of Nursing, some of our best nurse educators work in world-renowned clinical practice sites, where they conduct significant and innovative research that will help improve nursing practice and inform the state of nursing science. They are changing the future of nursing through clinical practice and scientific research that is making a real impact on health policy and education today.

I hope you enjoy reading about how Connell School faculty and students are following in Florence Nightingale’s footsteps.


Susan Gennaro