Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She gave nursing a favourable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night. Today, she is remembered as a symbol of selfless caring and tireless service.
Florence Nightingale Early Life
- She was born on May 12, 1820 to wealthy British parents travelling in Italy. Named for the city in which she was born, young Florence never quite fit the mould of a Victorian lady.
- She was well educated in literature, music, drawing and the domestic arts. She generally rejected female company and spent her time with male intellectuals.
- Nightingale worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing, in the face of opposition from her family and the restrictive societal code for affluent young English women.
Florence Nightingale Career
- People expect a women of her social standing to marry and devote her life to her family, entertaining, and cultural pursuits. However, she felt an early calling to serve, and refused to marry.
- Later when she attempted to go to work as a nurse, her horrified family repeatedly opposed her. In those days, hospitals were often dirty and dark and nurses were untrained, sometimes drunken women.
- Finally, at the age of 33, she was able to obtain some minimal training and begin her career.
- In 1854, the British press began reporting that doctor cared for soldiers wounded in the Crimean War in deplorable conditions. Nightingale recruited and equipped a group of nurses and went off to Turkey to help.
- Doctor resented her arrival as they fear interference of a woman. Undaunted, she worked tirelessly to improve conditions in the hospital.
Florence Nightingale Medical Reform
- Her changes revolutionized British military medical care, increasing standards for sanitation and nutrition and dramatically lowering mortality rates.
- Consequently, she reduced peacetime deaths in the army and turned her attention to the sanitary design of hospitals and the introduction of sanitation in working-class homes.
- Later Nightingale had £45,000 at her disposal from the Nightingale Fund to set up the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital on 9 July 1860.
- One of Nightingale’s achievements was the introduction of trained nurses into the workhouse system in Britain from the 1860s onwards.
- From the 1860s onwards, Nightingale was intermittently bedridden and suffered from depression.
Florence Nightingale Later Life & Death
- Despite her symptoms, she remained phenomenally productive in social reform. During her bedridden years, she also did pioneering work in the field of hospital planning, and her work propagated quickly across Britain and the world.
- Medical community consider her expert on the scientific care of the sick. Later US government asked her advice on caring for the wounded soldiers of the Civil War. Through correspondence and reports, she continued her influence throughout her last years.
- Later historian described Nightingale as “a true pioneer in the graphical representation of statistics”. She developed a form of the pie chart now known as the polar area diagram.
- She was the first woman to receive the British Order of Merit. God had always led her.
- She remembered no particular sermon or circumstances whichever made any great impression upon her. But the first idea she could recollect when she was a child was a desire to nurse the sick.
- In 1907, the International Conference of the Red Cross Societies listed her as a pioneer of the Red Cross Movement. Florence Nightingale died at her home, 10 South Street, in London, on Saturday, August 13, 1910.
- News of her death spread quickly throughout England and across the oceans to the other countries of the world. Her courage and devotion had not been forgotten.