Florence Nightingale

(May 12th, 1820-August 13th 1910)

Our WiSE Wednesday is still on the theme of Nurses Day and Nurses Week. Today we will be featuring a huge figure in nursing, Florence Nightingale. Her birthday, May 12th, is the International Nurses Day and the last day of Nurses Week each year. 

Florence was born in 1820, in Italy, to a wealthy British family. She chose to pursue a career in healthcare as opposed to giving in to the pressure of women’s roles during her time. Her father was a huge influence on her life, encouraging her to pursue different languages, mathematics, and philosophy. Florence’s social class was expected to mainly marry and have children, rather than go to university and pursue education. Her mother and sister were not as supportive as her father in terms of her education and career path as a nurse, however Florence worked hard to become a nurse regardless. Religion also led her down her path to nursing and to help those who were suffering. 

Florence Nightingale is known as the founder of modern nursing. She had a positive reputation as a nurse and was known as “The Lady of the Lamp,” for her check-ins with wounded soldiers in the night during the Crimean war. In addition to treating wounded soldiers, she trained and directed nurses during the Crimean war.

Florence established a nursing school at St. Thomas Hospital, in London, which was the first secular nursing school, and is today a part of King’s College London. Her amazing work as a nurse inspired Lystra Gretter and a committee from the U.S. in the late 1800’s to create the Nightingale Pledge. A pledge, which is an oath that lays down certain principles for nurses to follow based on Florence’s legacy and the Hippocratic oath. 

Florence was huge on social reform, especially in healthcare. She helped improve healthcare and living conditions in not only Britain, but in India as well, helping with hunger relief. She also created a statistical report on sanitation in India, which led to improved care there. In Britain, Florence helped increase women participation in the workforce.

Florence was known to be an amazing writer, having written about medicine, life, and religion. She published certain research, using data visualization of her statistics in her works. As mentioned previously, Florence provided a statistical report of the sanitation in India, but she also created reports on the medical conditions of the Crimean War. She reported her findings to Parliament and others in ways they could better understand if they did not have experience in statistics. 

In 1858, Florence became the first female elected to the Royal Statistical Society and in 1874 became an honorary member of the American Statistical Association. There was also an international medal created in her honor, the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest distinction possible for a nurse to achieve. 

To learn more about Florence Nightingale: (Information for the article is from her wikipedia page)




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