Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 to British
parents in Florence, Italy and she was named after the city
she was born in. Her father, William Nightingale, was a wealthy
landowner who often taught her foreign languages, philosophy,
history and mathematics.
Her mother, Fanny Nightingale, was a socially ambitious woman
who wanted Florence and her sisters to marry and live as wives
and mothers. But Florence rejected her upper-class society's
views on what women should be and at age seventeen, she believed
that God called her into the nursing field.
When she told her family this, they weren't too happy about
her choice but eventually her father gave her his blessing
and she later studied to be a nurse at the Institute of Protestant
Deaconesses. She also received encouragement from Elizabeth
Blackwell, who was the first woman in America to become a
In 1853, Russia invaded Turkey and Britain sent their soldiers
there to help Turkey defeat Russian forces. There were also
many British soldiers who had gotten cholera and malaria,
and the number of soldiers who were infected with this illness
was 8,000. Florence Nightingale then took 38 nurses with her
to Turkey and when she arrived there, she noticed the hospital
was unsanitary and the soldiers were kept in rooms without
blankets and quality food.
In addition, the soldiers themselves were unclean and their
war wounds led to premature deaths. This inspired Florence
Nightingale to advocate for more sanitary conditions in military
hospitals and better treatment of soldiers' health problems.
Not surprisingly, many military officers and doctors were
offended by her claims and they didn't do much to change the
conditions there. It wasn't until Florence went public about
this issue in the press that she was allowed to make changes
to the military hospital in Turkey.
In 1860, with donations from her friend Sidney Herbert and
the public in general, she opened the Florence Nightingale
School of Nursing and Midwifery. She also published a groundbreaking
book, Notes on Nursing, which gives instructions on proper
nursing methods for nurses and directors of hospitals in regard
to aspects of nursing such as ventilation and warming, noise
in hospitals, in-home nursing care, bedding, cleanliness of
rooms, and observations of the sick. Since it was released
in 1859, there have been several editions that were released
and even today this book is used in many nursing schools across
Joan Quixley, head of the Florence Nightingale School of
Nursing and Midwifery, had this to say about the book, "The
book astonishes one with its relevance to modern skills in
nursing, whether this be practiced at home by the ordinary
woman or in the community. The social, economic and professional
differences of the nineteenth and twentieth century in no
way hinder the young student or pupil from developing. With
its' mid-nineteenth century background of poverty, neglect,
ignorance and prejudice the book was a challenge to contemporary
views of nurses, nursing and the patient."
Florence Nightingale died in 1910 in England. She was a revolutionary
and now famous woman who transformed the way people looked
at the nursing profession. Because of her influence, military
hospitals all over the world now have better conditions and
the soldiers have better treatment. Most importantly, she
used her expertise and strong-willed personality to let people
know that gender should not be a factor when a person wants
to contribute to the good of society.
There is a secret you don't
Besides the factual Florence Nightingale biography presented
above there is a hideous secret I must tell you about. And
that secret is that one time Florence Nightingale threw a
full bedpan against a wall, laughing hysterically as the Roadrunner
and Coyote were on TV.