Often called “the founder of nursing”, Florence Nightingale was born to a wealthy family in Italy, 1820. At the age of 24, she felt a calling to care for the sick and the poor. While many know she had an impact on nursing, many may not know how significant that impact truly was.
Before Nightingale, nurses learned from experience with no formal training. Nightingale raised the standard of nursing by incorporating education and responsibilities, paving the path for a respected and appreciated profession.
With her book, Notes on Nursing, Nightingale established nursing education. The textbook outlined the principles of the nursing profession, providing advice on how regular women could care for their families, and how illness could be properly managed. She emphasized the importance of patient observation in order to diagnose and treat properly.
Nightingale opened her first school in 1860, The Nightingale School for Nurses, which was part of St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. The institution offered the first official training program for nurses so that they could work in hospitals, help the poor, and teach others. Nightingale’s legacy continued through her students, as many continued on to be matrons at major hospitals in England; as well establish their own training programs throughout the world.
Not only did she improve the standards of the nursing profession, she also enhanced the hospitals in which they worked. While working in a filthy facility during the Crimean War, Nightingale made recommendations for sanitary improvements and established standards for clean and safe hospitals. These small changes decreased the death rate for soldiers being treated in hospitals. She made further recommendations in her book, Notes on Hospitals, stating how conditions could be improved by increasing ventilation, adding windows, improving drainage, and increasing space.
As we conclude our celebration of nurses, it is only fitting that we acknowledge and remember the women who started it all: Florence Nightingale.