Florence Nightingale

by Lauren from Roseville

"You ask me why I do not write something...I think one's feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results".

Florence Nightingale was determined to make nursing a respectable profession, decrease the death count in all hospitals (not just the military hospitals she started at) and she received her fair share of recognition for her efforts. Florence Nightingale had to overcome obstacle after obstacle but she overcame each and every one whenever it stood in the way of her life goals. If you were to walk into a standard hospital right now you would be able to see her fine work everywhere you look from the clean walls, the organized layout of specialized tools, the diplomas of the doctors/nurses proving that to be the best suited for caring for the sick you had to be educated, and to the healthy patients walking out healthy and disease free. Florence, like most great heroes, her motivation and her driving force, begins in her childhood.


Florence Nightingale was born on May 12,1820 into a family that was a part of the upper class and was named after her birth place, Florence, Italy. At the age of sixteen Florence decided that nursing was her calling. She believed it to be her "divine purpose". When she told her family of her intentions her parents strongly disagreed with her choice and they even went as far as to forbid her to become a nurse. They did this because nursing, at the time, was considered to be a low profession for the poor, lower class, uneducated, and old maids. After much talking, begging, and convincing on Florence's part she convinced her parents to, quite reluctantly, give her their consent to continue a career in nursing. Florence during her nursing career even said "I can expect no sympathy or help from [my family]". Although she had no support from her family she still had to face the challenges of her chosen profession.

Florence Nightingale (
Florence Nightingale (

The Crimean War began in October 1853 and Florence Nightingale was invited to oversee the introduction of female nurses into the military hospitals, where they would tend to the wounded British soldiers. However she did not just help tend to the injured soldiers, she also (with help from the other nurses and the less severely injured soldiers) washed the entire hospital that had been previously filthy and rat infested, rearranged the bedding arrangements so that everyone was as conferrable as possible, and she created a new section of the kitchen where food for the patients with special dietary needs was prepared.

In addition to this Florence also worked from the minute she woke up to the minute she fell asleep. Even in the late or early hours if the night she could be found walking through the halls/rooms with a lantern for light and checking on the soldiers and addressing any problems she found there. Over a series of weeks of doing this each and every night, she earned the nicknames the "lady with the lamp" and "angel of the Crimea" among the soldiers. Florence Nightingale said and strongly believes that " the goal of nursing is to place the patient in the best possible condition for nature for nature to act", she believed that nature was the best healer. Later she also stated that the object and color in the materials around actually have a physical effect on us, on how we feel". In 1856 she made it clear that she respected nursing and expected others to do the same and that she was completely devoted to her cause by saying "I stand on the alter of murdered men, and while I live, I fight for their cause". Florence Nightingale had done what most people at the time thought to be impossible, she made nursing a respected profession for women.

At the age of 90 Florence Nightingale died from heart failure on August 13, 1910 but before her death she was well rewarded for her efforts in advancing the medical practices. In 1909 she received the "Freedom of the city of London" award for her help in decreasing the death rate in London's hospitals. In 1883 Queen Victoria awarded her personally the Royal Red Cross for her contributions to the city's health and well being. She was the first woman in London to be awarded the Order of Merit, which she received in 1907. Florence also established the first professional training school for nurses in 1860. Florence Nightingale was well rewarded for her contribution to the history of London and to the world.

Without Florence Nightingale's persistence and determination, nursing would not have become such a honorable and respected profession, incalculable numbers of people would be sick or dead, and she was well rewarded for her efforts. Florence Nightingale has earned her title as the Pioneer of Modern Nursing.

Page created on 12/17/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/17/2013 12:00:00 AM

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Extra Info

Florence Nightingale established the first professional training school for nurses in 1860.

Florence was extremely interested in mathematics when she was a child and she excelled in it.

Florence was schooled at the "Institution of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth" in 1844.