Famous Nurses: Florence Nightingale’s Story
Today, nurses are the heart of healthcare. But nursing wasn’t always considered a legitimate career. That thinking began to change in the 19th century — thanks to advances in medicine and the work of some pretty awesome nurses who paved the way for modern nursing.
Undoubtedly, Florence Nightingale is one of the most famous nurses in history. Born May 12, 1820, her interest in nursing started at a young age. However, her parents refused to let her train, since they thought it would be an embarrassment to their social standing. She persisted, and in 1851, Nightingale completed her training at the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth in Germany.
Soon after she finished her studies, the Crimean War began and she started training and overseeing a team of nurses who provided care in military hospitals in Turkey. What she found upon her arrival was appalling — poor patient care, a shortage of necessary supplies and unsanitary conditions. Nightingale and her team cared for the wounded British soldiers and worked to improve hygiene, which helped reduce infections dramatically. During this time, Nightingale earned her nickname “The Lady with the Lamp,” since she often visited soldiers at night carrying a small lantern.
Becoming One of History’s Most Famous Nurses
When she returned to England after the war, Nightingale was shocked to find that 16,000 of the 18,000 deaths were attributed not to battle wounds, but to diseases that spread by poor sanitation. By publishing her findings, Nightingale promoted her nursing theories on sanitation and gained much notoriety. Even Queen Victoria presented her with $250,000 which she used to establish St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale School of Nursing in 1860. There, Nightingale taught patient care as well as the importance of hygiene and sanitary conditions. She also published her theories on nurse training, which had a huge impact on nursing practices.
Thanks to Florence Nightingale, nursing became a valuable vocation. The work she did was so influential that some of the practices she started are still used in hospital care today!
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