School of Nursing Faculty Participate in Educational Trip

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) nursing faculty members, accompanied by nurses from various backgrounds and settings across Texas, spent time this summer learning about the global climate in nursing at the place where the profession first began, the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital, which is now apart of King’s College in London.

Alyce Ashcraft, Ph.D., R.N., CNE, professor and associate dean for research, and Yondell Masten, Ph.D., R.N., WHNP-BC, professor, associate dean for outcomes management and evaluation and Florence Thelma Hall Endowed Chair for Nursing Excellence in Women’s Health, spent time immersing themselves in nursing history and perspectives on the efficacy of various nursing practice models in England. Also on the agenda were several lectures conducted by King’s College nursing experts and innovators in nursing. Attendees learned that health care providers are facing the same challenges all over the world, and events like the conference at King’s College provide a great opportunity to work through solutions.

“From what we learned, the National Health System in England, much like our health care system, is looking for ways to save money,” Ashcraft said. “Currently, citizens of the United Kingdom pay for health care as part of their taxes, versus paying at the point of care as it is in the U.S. A plus to this system is nursing students in England currently do not have to pay tuition.”

While many on the trip could relate well to the need for providers to find ways to reduce costs having recently dealt with similar issues, the seminars and following discussions also revealed the opportunity for nurses to create solutions to global health care concerns.

“Our discussions gave us key insights, much of which we can apply in how we educate and provide care at TTUHSC,” Ashcraft said. “We must continue to ‘push the envelope’ in implementing best practices here and in every country, we must advocate for the importance of nurses being ‘at the table’ to participate in the process of making important health care decisions, and we must continue to emphasize interprofessionalism.”

For the nurses who attended the conference, there was a special connection between the subject matter and the history of the facility in which the event took place. Nightingale herself frequently advocated for similar policies in her nursing practice.

“Florence Nightingale essentially started the modern nursing profession through the nursing school at St. Thomas Hospital, and her methods continue to shape the nursing field today,” Ashcraft said. “Her techniques were simple, such as improving the patient’s environment for better outcomes and requiring caregivers to wash their hands between patients. Obviously, we still teach these things today.”

For Ashcraft and the other nursing professors in attendance, Nightingale is also a role model as the first formal nursing educator.

“Nightingale elevated nursing education from an apprenticeship to formal education that was systematically taught to the novice nurse,” Ashcraft said. “Essentially, Florence Nightingale developed a curriculum of study that focused on the patient’s hygiene, nutrition and environment. She looked at outcomes and consequences beyond daily care and saw the long-term implications. This is something we still teach our students today.”

Ashcraft says that regular trips to nursing programs are in the works, and she hopes they will continue to expand TTUHSC School of Nursing’s appreciation for the diverse nursing network worldwide.

“It was fabulous trip and all of us agreed we would do it again,” Ashcraft said. “The next trip will be to Germany to investigate health care policies and nursing care that relate to the ethics of care. We also will visit Holocaust memorials and evaluate how historical events relate to nursing ethics today.”

Nursing students and faculty who are interested in attending an upcoming trip can contact Ashcraft at

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