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The biggest profession and the one that has consistently been ranked as one of the most trusted practices in the U.S have been nursing. The bare foundation of nursing was laid down by one of the greatest figures that nursing history has ever had, Florence Nightingale. Florence helped shape modern day nursing into what it is in multiple ways.
Florence is often referred to by her well-earned nickname, The Mother of Nursing, but picked up other infamous names during her lifetime such as The Lady with the Lamp, and The Angel of the Crimea.
Florence was born in 1820 to a wealthy family, in Italy. She was born into a wealthy traditional family but early into her life she showed that she would not follow the social pattern of other women in this society. Women were considered intellectually inferior to men and education for women during this era was more along the lines of lessons in dancing, etiquette, music, manners, painting, and embroidery but her father, William Nightingale helped to stimulate her inquisitive mind by tutoring her in ancient and modern languages, history, composition, philosophy and statistics. Florence rejected a proposal from suitable and proper gentlemen and thus rejected the usual pathway of wealthy Victorian women which included marriage, children and housework to pursue her true calling, nursing. Florence was 31 years old when her father lamented and granted her permission to study in Germany as a student at the Lutheran Hospital of Fliedner in Kaiserworth. Her parents were against her becoming a nurse because during the Victorian time period, nursing was deemed as a job only suitable for the lower class. Florence turned down a marriage proposal from a suitable gentlemen named Richard Milnes when she was 17 because although he interested her “romantically and intellectually, her moral active nature requires satisfaction, and that would not find it in this life”.
After finishing her training Florence returned to London and took on a job as a nurse at a hospital and was promoted to supervisor in less than a year thanks to her impressive character and work ethic. Florence grappled with unsanitary conditions and an outbreak of cholera which provided an ideal environment for rapid spread of the disease. Florence took this as her personal mission to vastly improve these conditions and significantly lowered the death rate. Following this Florence was called by Sidney Herbert, Secretary of War to organize a team of exceptional nurses to tend to the fallen and sick soldiers of the Crimea war. Florence quickly rose to the challenge and assembled an outstanding team of over 30 nurses and sailed to Crimea. Once the team arrived Florence quickly set to work to improve the unsanitary conditions and recruited her team as well as some of the least injured patients to scrub the hospital from top to bottom and personally roamed the halls during the night ministering care to patients, thus earning her nickname “the Lady with the Lamp”. Florence established many patient services such as a kitchen for patients, a laundry, classroom and library. Florence’s hard work and innovative thinking did not go unnoticed and she was welcomed home with an engraved brooch from the queen and money from the government, that she used to further advance her cause of improving care and hospitals. Additionally with the funds, she officially established St. Thomas’ Hospital and Nightingale Training school for Nurses.
Florence would be immensefully satisfied to see that all her hard work and arbutus labor was not in vain. She set the example and base for healthcare and patients worldwide. Florence was much more than just a nurse, she was an advocate, policymaker, caregiver, scientist, entrepreneur and a humanitarian.
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