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According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a nurse is explained as “a person who cares for the sick or infirm”. Specifically, it defines a nurse as a licensed health-care professional who practices independently or is supervised by a medical practitioner.
Who is Florence Nightingale?
Florence Nightingale was a nurse. She worked tirelessly to better the health and sanitation of the British military and the civilians of British and England colonies. Her work in the Crimean war in Scutari brought her to the light of the public. Later, she started numerous reform agendas in the healthcare world. She also changed the nursing profession to fit the women. She is the founder and remains the major point of influence in the nursing profession.
Florence Nightingale Early Life.
Florence Nightingale also nicknamed “the lady with the lamp” was born on May 12th, 1820 to Frances Nightingale and William Shore Nightingale. She was the younger of two children. Despite her mother’s interest in public recognition, Florence was awkward in social situations. She did not want to become the center of attention whenever possible. Florence had a healthy relationship with her mother besides describing her mother as overly controlling. Florence even wrote to her mother she is more good-natured and complying.
William Shore Nightingale was a wealthy man. When Florence was five years old, he inherited two estates -one at Lea Hurst in Derbyshire and the other in Hampshire, Embley Park. Florence grew up in Lea Hurst where her father provided her with classical education.
Florence’s interest in Nursing.
From a tender age, Florence was active in philanthropy and ministering to the poor and sick people neighboring her estate. She had made a decision at 16 that she wanted to become a nurse. Her parents were not pleased when she told them she wanted to become a nurse. Her parents forbid her to pursue nursing. Nursing was viewed as a lowly menial job by the upper classes. It was expected that a young lady of Florence’s social stature to marry a man of means. She turned down a suitable gentleman for she felt she would not find satisfaction in this life. Instead, she enrolled as a nursing student in the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Fliedner in Kaiserwerth, Germany.
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Florence Nightingale and Nursing.
Nightingale was able to enroll at the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth in Germany for two weeks of training in July 1850 and again for three months in July 1851. She learned the basics of nursing skills, the importance of patient observation, and the value of good hospital organization. In the early 1850s, Nightingale returned to London.
She took a nursing job in the Middlesex hospital for ailing governesses. She impressed her boss with her determination to care for the sick and her skills as an administrator. Within just a year, she was promoted to superintendent. This position was challenging as she was constantly dealing with the cholera outbreaks and unsanitary conditions conducive to the rapid spread of the disease. This was when she made it her purpose to improve hygiene practices. This lowered the death rate in the hospital. She was hardworking. In fact, she had barely recovered when the most challenging moment of her nursing career presented itself.
Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War.
The Crimean war broke out in October of 1853. The British empire was at war with the Russian empire for control of the Ottoman empire. The British and the French, allies of Turkey, sought to curb Russian expansion. Many British soldiers were sent to the Black Sea, where supplies quickly finished. By 1854, at least 18000 soldiers had been admitted into military hospitals. The majority of the Crimean war was fought in the Crimean Peninsula in Russia. However, a British troop base and hospitals for the care of wounded soldiers were established in Scutari. The news reports stated that soldiers were treated by the inexperienced and ineffective medical establishment and that basic supplies were not available for care. This led to an outcry by the British public who demanded the situation to be improved.
In late 1854, Nightingale received a Sidney Herbert, the secretary of state of war for the British government. He requested that she lead a group of nurses to Scutari. At the same time, Florence wrote to her friend Liz Herbert, Sidney’s wife asking that she be allowed to lead a private expedition. The requests were granted.
Florence’s impact during the Crimean war.
In October of 1854, Nightingale and a group of 38 women departed heading for Barrack Hospital in Scutari where they arrived on November 5. The hospital had filthy conditions, inadequate supplies, uncooperative staff, and severe overcrowding. Nightingale kept her group from the wards. She described the hospital as the “Kingdom of Hell”. In order to care for the soldiers properly, it was important that adequate supplies be obtained. Nightingale bought supplies with funds from the London Times and enlisted soldiers’ wives to assist with laundry. She procured hundreds of scrub brushes and asked the least infirm patients to assist in cleaning the hospital.
Origin of “the lady with the lamp”.
In the evenings, she moved through the dark hallways carrying a lamp while making her rounds, ministering to the patients. The soldiers were comforted by her compassion and nicknamed her “the Lady with the Lamp”. She created a number of patient services that improved the quality of the patients’ stay. She established laundry so that patients would have clean linen and a class for intellectual stimulation and entertainment.
Based on Nightingale’s observations in the Crimea, she wrote notes on Matters affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army. This report sparked the restructuring of the War Office’s administrative department including the establishment of the Royal Commission of Health of the Army in 1857.
Florence returns after the Crimean war.
Florence remained in Scutari for a year and a half and left in the summer of 1856 when the Crimean conflict was resolved. She returned to Lea Hurst where she was raised. On arrival, she was received with a warm welcome and the Queen rewarded her work by presenting her with an engraved brooch later known as “Nightingale Jewel”. She was also granted a prize of $250,000 from the British government.
Florence Nightingale’s impact on Nursing and her Demise.
Florence decided to use the money to further her cause. She funded the establishment of St. Thomas Hospital and within it, Nightingale Training school for nurses.
She had contracted “Crimean fever” while in Scutari. She was 38 years old when she was bedridden and would remain so for the rest of her life. However, she was determined and continued to improve health-care and alleviate patients’ suffering. This is why she continued her work from her bed. She wrote notes on Hospitals focusing on how to run civilian hospitals. During the US Civil war, she was consulted about how to manage their hospitals. She also served as an authority on public sanitation issues in India for both military and civilians. Florence continued to receive many accolades for her good work.
In August 1910, Nightingale fell ill. She died on Saturday, August 1910 at her home in London.