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Florence Nightingale

Founder of Modern Nursing

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Florence Nightingale, a renowned English nurse, statistician, and writer, was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy to Fanny Nightingale and William Nightingale of Embly Park, Hampshire.

Nightingale was 17 years old when she felt God's calling to a great cause. At 25 years old, she informed her parents of her desire to become a nurse; however, as this profession was associated with the working class, both her parents disapproved of her decision.

At St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, Nightingale met Elizabeth Blackwell, who, despite much prejudice, was the first woman who succeeded to become a doctor in the United States of America. Meeting Blackwell further encouraged Nightingale to pursue a career in medicine, and in 1851, she was allowed by her father to undergo training to become a nurse.

At 31 years old, Nightingale traveled to Kaiserwerth, Germany, and took up nursing at the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses. After 2 years, she was chosen to be the resident lady superintendent of a hospital for invalid women in Harley Street, London.

In March, 1853, Turkey was invaded by Russia, and Britain and France, threatened by Russia's increasing power, came to Turkey's defense, and thus began the Crimean War. Within a few weeks after setting foot in Turkey, around 8,000 of the British soldiers came down with cholera and malaria.

Florence Nightingale was one of the 38 nurses to volunteer to go to Turkey to serve the suffering soldiers. The conditions in the army hospital in Scutari were terrible, and Nightingale proposed reforms to military hospitals. Her views were opposed by military officers and doctors, and they offered her little help. Nightingale had contacts at The Times, and she used this to garner publicity about the dreadful conditions of the British Army's wounded soldiers. After the battle of Inkerman, she was allowed to organize the barracks hospital, and the morbidity rate was greatly reduced due to the improvement in the quality of sanitation.

Upon Nightingale's return to England in 1596, she was considered a national heroine. Her immense shock upon experiencing the appalling conditions of the wounded men of the British Army pushed her to start a campaign to better the quality of nursing in military hospitals. The 1857 Sanitary Commission, which is said to be attributed to the interview she had with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in October, 1856, eventually led to the foundation of the Army Medical College.

Notes on Nursing

Get our eBook edition of Florence Nightingale's monumental work Notes On Nursing
Nightingale published a couple of books, Notes on Hospital (1859) and Notes on Nursing (1859), as a way to broaden the reach of her views on reform. Nightingale, with the help of friends, was able to raise 59,000 for the improvement of the quality of nursing, and with this, the Nightingale School & Home for Nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital was founded in 1860. Her book, Notes on Nursing, although primarily written for the benefit of those who practiced nursing at home, was considered a "classic introduction to nursing" and the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale school and the other nursing schools that were established. The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act resulted in the establishment of workhouses, and Nightingale also contributed in the training of nurses for employment at the said workhouses. Nightingale continued to devote her life to the development of the nursing profession.

Florence Nightingale experienced poor health later in life. She went blind in 1895, and eventually became invalid, requiring her to be cared for full time by a nurse. She passed away in her sleep on August 13, 1910 in her room at 10 South Street, Park Lane.

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