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Florence Nightingale

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.

Florence Nightengale
Florence Nightengale

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 doctor.

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 England.

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 know …

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.


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