Nursing as a profession, came into existence as early as human existence. It is the foremost caring profession. It rested, savoured and consolidated its position through the ages by developing its own language, rituals, arts and sciences from the physical, psycho-social and spiritual needs of the patients. The history of Nursing Education and Practice in Nigeria is closely interwoven with the history of nursing as a universal profession, the history of education and the history of Nigeria itself.
Modern Scientific Nursing started with the crusading efforts of Miss Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) during and after the Crimean War (1854-1856). She combined Christian ideals, strict discipline and a sense of mission to open the door for what is known today as the nursing profession. Nursing was the first profession in the health industry to form an international organisation - the International Council of Nurses formed in 1899. In 1916, the Royal College of Nursing was founded, while in 1919 the General Nursing Council for the England and Wales came into existence.
The early missionaries who arrived in Nigeria in the early nineteenth century, had the strong belief that Jesus Christ is the spiritual King, the greatest Nurse and Physician capable of caring for and healing whatever affects the body, mind and soul. They combined their missionary work with the provision of medical and nursing care to the sick.
With the Amalgamation of the Colony and the Protectorates of Nigeria into one country in 1914, Nigeria became a colony of Britain. Nursing like all other professions developed and witnessed rapid changes to meet the changing needs of the society it serves. The first and second world wars also had impact on the growth and development of the nursing profession.