Florence Nightingale

There are many historical personalities, whose names are associated with the highest morality, and Florence Nightingale is, undoubtedly, one of those. She earned her reputation primarily for her significant contribution to the development of modern nursing, her innovative approaches to nursing care, reformations and reorganization of the British healthcare system, and, certainly, her legacy as a researcher and scholar. She was the first woman to be honored by King George V with the Sovereign’s personal award, the Order of Merit.

Florence Nightingale originated from a wealthy British family and received a brilliant home education. Her destiny as a woman from the upper social class was to marry a rich man and become a housewife. However, Florence was a very active and determined young lady. In her early twentieth, she realized that not the worldly avocations, but taking care about the people in poverty and sickness was her true calling. Despite the antagonism of her parents, Nightingale entered nursing career, looking for support and inspiration in reading books on theology, medicine and philosophy, as well as taking care about the poor.

florence nightingaleAfter several years of medical practice in Europe, Florence Nightingale was back to London, where she continued working as a superintendent in the “establishment for gentlewomen during illness”. That was the first chance for her to create her own strategy of hospital work organization. Since she had to face the main problems of the British medical care system, including poor discipline, ineffective management, lack of professional education, etc., she started looking for ways to solve them.

During the Crimean war, Nightingale was appointed for serving in a hospital in Turkey, and this work became a turning point in her career. Together with a group of her associates, Nightingale made every effort to organize a proper medical care for wounded soldiers: she initiated new principles of medical sanitary and patient care, introduced healthy diet and proper hygiene, made medical personnel wear uniforms and keep proper records on every patient. As a result,  the mortality rate declined from 42.7% to 2.2%. This experience helped Nightingale to define the highest mission of her life. When she was back to England, she decided to dedicate herself to promoting the idea of total reformation of the British public health care system. She was giving public speeches and wrote a series of books and articles, which are still used as manuals for the knowledge of nursing.

She was involved in charity campaigns and raised funds for many hospitals in Britain. She developed some charts and diagrams to illustrate mortality statistics and used them as an effective tool for making the authorities realize the need for changes in the existing health care system. A great deal of Nightingale’s reforms were implemented and highly appreciated. Finally, she established a training school at St. Thomas hospital. Today, Florence Nightingale is remembered not only because she “..changed the very nature of the profession [clinical nursing] and introduced scientific measurement of nursing practice” (Mundinger). She earned her place in history as one of the most educated, courageous and determined women, who relieved pain and suffering of thousands of people around the world and whose life was filled with infinite care, compassion and love for humanity.

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