Florence Wald and Margaret Sanger – Comparing Historical Nursing Figures

Differences in Contributions of the Two Historical Figures – Florence Wald and Margaret Sanger

Florence Wald is a popular historic figure in nursing remembered for her efforts in improving care quality for patients in the final stages of life. She is credited with introducing the idea of hospice care for dying patients undergoing a great deal of physical pain and emotional distress nearing the end of life (Wald & Leonard, 2015). Today, she is remembered for her compassion and reverence for life within the clinical environment. Wald always welcomed patient input and was gracious enough to incorporate them during treatment as part of her humanistic approach to care. Wald is also remembered for shifts in the manner in which patients were treated at hospitals and suggested a framework which valued the lives of the dying. She also supported a healthcare system where prognoses were shared with patients and their families with the aim of being truthful and promoting integrity.

            Margaret Sanger, on the other hand, is remembered for her contributions to human rights, reproductive health, and leading a movement championing the global acceptance of birth control.  She regarded this cause as her life’s work and was convinced that this was the only solution to problems facing women in the first half of the 20th century, especially since family planning was yet to be accepted by mainstream society. Sanger’s view was that women would become productive members of society when their reproductive rights were considered and recognized by law (Jones, 2020). This came at great personal cost since the spread and dissemination of information on birth control was considered illegal in the New York State in the 1920s. Even after facing numerous threats to her life and practice, Sanger still went on to open the first birth control clinic in New York. She is also remembered for promoting the participation of women in healthcare by hiring female healthcare experts and social workers.

how the contributions of the two historical figures influence my professional nursing practice.

            Florence Wald has influenced my professional nursing practice greatly and the attitudes I have adopted towards dying patients. Today, I always strive to treat patients suffering from terminal illnesses with compassion while also creating a peaceful clinical environment.  I also hold the view that hospitals should be transparent and truthful; sharing crucial details with patients and affording family members an opportunity to grieve. I have, time and again, convinced my colleagues to start these tough conversations with patients when they are not getting better to allow them to become fully aware of their current condition and the availability of hospice care during this period. This often introduces a sense of relief and allows for patients to die with dignity.

            Margaret Sanger’s birth control movement also influenced my professional nursing practice by transforming my views on reproductive health. I now hold the view that women of child bearing age from all walks of life should exercise control over their reproductive health and choose when to get pregnant. Empowering women to make such decisions will also have a positive impact on society by allowing them to actively participate in determining the number of children they are capable of supporting and avoiding financial burden in the long run. Today, I am a proud advocate of Planned Parenthood and will continue to raise awareness of the importance of reproductive health choices in contemporary times.

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