Who does not know the name of Florence Nightingale? The founder of modern nursing as we know it today, Flo (as we affectionately refer to her here) is the reason why your job is respected, rewarding and has standards to put the patient first. She is the reason for Nurses Week and Nurses Day and today, we celebrate Flo on what would have been her 198th birthday.
Like most of our nurses in history series, Flo gained notoriety during her wartime service. During the Crimean War, she trained the nurses in her charge and organized the treatment of the wounded and the dying. She was known as the “Lady with the Lamp”, due to her tireless tending to soldiers all throughout the night.
Flo’s compassion and dedication garnered her much attention and that same attention was duly granted to the profession of nursing as well. All were able to see the value and importance that nurses hold to their patients and so too did they put value on the training systems that she herself established in 1860 with the founding of her nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, England.
Flo would further be associated with nursing due to her prolific writings that would attract nursing students from around the world who would travel to England to train under her tutelage. She communicated effectively and simply so that even the undereducated could understand; it’s that same philosophy that drives nurses today to spend the time explaining care plans to both patients and their families in ways that a doctor would not or even could not. Flo set the standard for fully informed medical professionals and their patients.
Flo also rebelled against the established norm of the era that postulated that women were to marry and have children and to be submissive to their husbands. She decided to go against her family’s wishes and devote herself to the care of others because she felt called to do so. She believed that women were every bit as capable and equal to men, an idea that was unpopular at the time. Flo earned respect and established herself on equal terms because of her incomparable dedication to her craft and her patients.
Flo used her fame to speak to important and influential people in high places and she did great work in advancing infection control protocols, some of which were far ahead of her time. She also did much to advance the role of women, both in medicine and in society at large. She passed from her epic life on August 13th, 1910 at the advanced age of 90 years old.
Florence Nightingale…thank you for the incredible road you have paved. May we all aspire to such greatness!
Read more about Florence Nightingale here.