There were two major prongs of Nightingale's nurse education theory. One was actual practice attending to actual medical problems. As a result, nurses educated at her school were trained by instruction in class and by looking after those who were sick. Her school and the student's patients were housed in St. Thomas Hospital in London. Nightingale was born in Italy to British parents and returned to London after being trained in nursing at a German Protestant hospital in Kaiserworth. The second important prong was training in sanitation and cleanliness. Her students were taught to sanitize medical tools; to keep themselves clean; to sanitize bed linen; to keep wounds clean; and to keep patients clean. This latter is the part of her education and theory that has most obviously carried over to contemporary nursing practice.
Florence Nightingale was very strong on environment; she believed that the environment of a patient had as much to do with welfare as the care itself. For example, a trauma center in a battlefield would cause patients stress, and so they could not recover as well as they could in another, quieter environment. She also believed that the cleanliness of the environment was vital -- something we now know to be absolutely true. The nurse would therefore be responsible for keeping the patients away from unsanitary conditions; although this did not mean that nurses were janitors, they sometimes had to perform janitorial functions in order to keep their patients comfortable and healing properly. This attitude continues today, with operating centers and hospitals kept to specific standards of cleanliness, noise levels, and general patient comfort.
The most important factor of Florence Nightingale's theory of nursing education is that it should be practical and thorough. She felt that nurse training was almost as important as training of doctors, and nurses should have medical knowledge too.
Nightingale wanted to make nursing a respectable profession and believed that nurses should be trained in science. (enotes)
Nurses in training at Nightingale’s school would tend to actual sick patients at a nearby hospital. She was also very involved in nurse training and sanitation for the army.
In her role as Superintendent of Nurses and caring for patients in military field hospitals, Nightingale was struck by the appalling conditions and the number of deaths related to infection. (phoenix.edu)
Although it might seem logical to expect sanitation even in field hospitals, Nightingale was a tireless supporter of regulations for sanitation conditions.
It is important to note that many of her basic methods are still in use today!