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Florence Nightingale and Her Impact on The Nursing Field

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Florence Nightingale has highly influenced the Nursing field. As stated by Jeff Strickler she is “the founder of modern nursing”. She grew up in England with a rich desire to become a nurse. However, her family did not have the same desire for her. Against her families desire she went off to become a nurse. As she became a nurse she was faced with several obstacles before influencing Nursing. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how Florence Nightingale overcame her obstacles and highly influenced the Nursing field.

Early Years

Reported by Strickler “Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy, to affluent British parents” and grew up in England. She demonstrated her intelligence at a very young age becoming an expert in mathematics and learning several ages. At a very young she expressed her interest in becoming a nurse. Her family was disappointed and strongly against her interest in becoming a nurse because it was a dishonorable occupation (Strickler, 2017). Her family attempted to change Nightingale’s passion by making sure she was very well educated all around. The disappointment from her family towards her lead her to live a very sad and depressed life (Begley, 2016). Her family wanted her to be traditional and become a midwife through an arranged marriage. They forced her into a relationship that lasted six years and in which she was proposed to three times but she opposed to marrying him every time. However, her immense passion allowed her to pursue her career as a nurse.

Becoming a Nurse

Nightingale grew up in a wealthy family and without her families support she was not able to pursue her passion for nursing. During her depression, she became religious and relied on God. For years within the Nightingale household there was frustration and tears. Her family finally came to the conclusion that it was better to let her live independently when she was 32 years old and sent her off with 500 pounds. She took the money she was given and went off right away to nursing school in London and Germany. In 1851, she attended the Institution for Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserwerth in Germany and then later finished her nursing student career in Paris. She later went off to become the head of the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in London.

Becoming the “Lady with a Lamp”

In 1853, during the Crimean War there was a high rate of death due to lack of care and professionalism that soldiers were receiving. The rate of death was so high that the British Secretary of War knew something had to change. To resolve this epidemic Nightingale was asked to lead a unit of 38 nurses in Barrack Hospital in Scutari. Once Nightingale arrived with her unit of nurses to the Barrack Hospital in Scutari that was built to hold 1,700 soldiers they came to realize that it was actually holding 4,000 soldiers that were dying due to infections. As soldiers were dying due to infections she created the theory that soldiers weren’t improving because of the environment. Nightingale changed protocols to improve sanitary conditions in the environment. She introduced cleanliness and proper sanitation into nursing. Stated by Strickler, her changes “reduced the high rate of mortality from 43% to 2% in 6 months”. Nightingale also introduced heavier rounds. At night when her fellow nurses were resting she would make sure to do rounds for all of her patients with a lamp that which lead her to be known as the “lady with a lamp.” After her success Strickler stated that “in 1858 she wrote Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army and became the female to become an honorary member of the American Statistical Association.

Future Needs of Nursing

Florence Nightingale introduced that the environment the patient is in, is crucial for a recovery to happen. As much as nursing has progressed in the healthcare system with sanitation protocols it can still be better. As stated by Medeiros, Enders, and Lira “the individual must be kept in the best possible conditions for the nature to preserve or restore health, prevent or cure the disease or injury” (2015). Providing the best ambiance for a patient must always be a nurse’s main priority especially during the patient’s recovery stage.


In conclusion, Florence Nightingale introduced the most crucial and effective protocol to not only nursing but the healthcare field. Her intervention in nursing is what developed the foundation of modern nursing. Nightingale’s consistency and strong will is what brought more respectable attention to nursing. Thanks to her the nursing profession is better respected even though it is still an ongoing process. Florence Nightingale will always continue to be a nursing legacy.


  • Strickler, J. (2017). Florence Nightingale: lighting the way for the future of nursing. Nursing, 47(12), 43-45. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000526887.95058.3b
  • Medeiros, A. B., Enders, B., & Lira, A. L. (2015). The Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory: a critical analysis. 19(3), 518-524. doi:10.5935/1414-8145.20150069
  • Begley, D. (2016). Florence Nightingale: Lighting the way for the future of nursing. Nevada RNformation, 10-11

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