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Florence Nightingale helped make hospitals cleaner and more efficient, she helped make nursing an important, respected profession, and helped change the world around her into a better, more caring place. Would you like to be in a dirty, smelly hospital with fleas and rats? Would you want to have a nurse care for you who knows nothing about diseases or nursing? Well that s the way it would be–if it wasn t for a woman pioneer set out to improve hospital conditions. That woman was Florence Nightingale.
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy. She was named after the city that she was born in. Her mother loved gaiety, and Florence, Italy had the reputation of being the gayest city in Europe. Florence had a sister named Parthenope who was born one year prior to Florence s birth. She was born in Naples, Italy. Parthenope was also named after the city she was born in. Parthenope is Greek for Naples. Florence and Parthenope were seldom called by their full names. Florence was called Flo, and Parthenope was called Parthe or just Pop.
Florence and Parthenope s parents were Fanny and William Nightingale. They were both from England. Her father was a Unitarian and a Whig who was involved in the anti-slavery movement. As a child, Florence was very close to her father, who without a son, treated her as his friend and companion. Florence’s mother, Fanny Nightingale, also came from a Unitarian family. Both Florence and Parthenope were born while they were on vacation in Italy.
The Nightingales were a very rich and wealthy family. Flo and Pop grew up with a very privileged childhood. They had many gardens to play in, ponies to ride, and numerous cats, dogs, and birds to take care of. They lived in a large house in a town called Derbyshire, near London. They called it “Embley Park.” They also had a summer home that they called “Lea Hurst.”
Even with all of this, Flo was not happy. Flo was not an ordinary child. She was not naughty like every other child. Instead, she was passionate, loving, strong-headed, and miserable. She craved sympathy. She was a very cryptic child. Florence thought that she was not like other people. She was scared that other children might discover her secret. Florence was not happy living the rich life that she was. She was always in discontent. To escape from this, she day-dreamed all of the time.
Florence was very pretty like her mother. She had a very vivid and active imagination. She would day dream all of the time. She imagined herself as a monster and as a great heroine. Flo and Pop were educated by their father. Their education was very thorough and classical. Florence was very smart, and was especially good at math.
Besides the fact that she loved to daydream, Florence loved to write. She was always writing in her diary. When her diary was not with her, she wrote on small scraps of papers or anything that she could get her hands on to write down her thoughts! On February 7, 1837, when Florence was 17, she wrote, “God spoke to me and called me to His service.” She had no idea what this service might be. God s call to her was ambiguous, but she did know that she was to do something.
Many men liked Florence, and the man that she liked had asked her to marry him. She turned him down, as she did many others, because she did not want to live her life like her mother lived hers. If she were to marry that man, she would have had to spend her time “making society and arranging domestic things.” Her mother was very upset with her decision to turn him down. She was always looking for a husband for Flo. Early on in her life, Florence knew that she was not an ordinary person. She wanted to do something that would make a difference.
In the 1840s, people in England were hungry. It was a very hard time for them. Prisons and hospitals were overcrowded and dirty. During this time, Florence brought food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and clothing to the cold and naked. In 1844 Florence was twenty four years old. She decided that her calling was to work in a hospital. She was to help other people by being a nurse. She wrote in her diary that it was “God s work for me.”
When Florence told her parents her plans to become a nurse, they were horrified because nursing was associated with working class women. They would not let Florence carry out her calling. Hospitals then were very dirty and smelly. To relive their pain, many patients drank whiskey. Some of the nurses drank whiskey along with the injured and sick soldiers. The nurses then didn t know much about disease. There were close to no servants to cook and clean the hospitals.
Because her parents didn t approve of her plans, Florence was devastated. She became depressed because she could not do what God wanted her to do. She hardly slept. She lost weight. On December 5, 1845, in her diary, Florence wrote, “I am dust and nothing This morning I felt my soul would pass away in tears.” Florence became very sick. In all of this Florence was determined to carry out God s wish and didn t give up hope.
In 1849 her parents allowed her to go abroad and study the European hospital system. In 1850 she began training in nursing at the Institute of Saint Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt. In June of the year 1851 Florence s parents allowed her to go to nursing school. She was thirty one years old, and she was finally carrying out her calling. The school that she went to to learn nursing was in Kaiserswerth, Germany. It was called the Institute for Protestant Deaconesses. She was on her way to fulfilling God s will for her.
Early in the year 1853 Florence went to Paris, France. She visited hospitals and watched doctors at work so that she could learn first-hand what it was like and what she must do. Late that same year Florence was made the superintendent of The Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen. It was just a small women s hospital in London, but a big step for Florence. Florence always made certain that the hospitals were clean, and she allowed anybody to come to the hospital that needed care, not just the members of the Church of England.
England joined the Crimean was against Russia in 1854. There were not enough hospital beds or doctors for the injured and sick soldiers. On October 15, 1854, the Secretary At War asked Florence Nightingale to choose a group of nurses and take them to Crimea to help with the sick and wounded soldiers. Florence was happy to take on the task and within one week, Florence and her fleet of thirty eight nurses were on their way. When Florence arrived in Scutari, Turkey, she was shocked. She had never before seen such an unkempt hospital. The hospital was swarming with fleas, and rats were scurrying everywhere. Since there were not enough beds to accommodate all of the injured and sick soldiers, they were lined up in the beds and on the floor.
The men were kept in rooms without blankets or decent food. The soldiers remained unwashed and still in their dirty, bloody uniforms. In these conditions, it was not surprising that in army hospitals, war wounds only accounted for one death in six. Diseases such as typhus, cholera and dysentery were the main reasons why the death-rate was so high amongst wounded soldiers.
Military officers and doctors objected to Nightingale’s views on reforming military hospitals. They interpreted her comments as an attack on them, and she was made to feel unwelcome. Florence received very little help from the military until she used her contacts at The Times to report details of the way that the British Army treated its wounded soldiers. Nightingale was given the task of organizing the barracks hospital after the battle of Anchorman.
Florence and the other nurses cleaned the hospital, prepared better food, and cared for the sick. They turned the hospital around, and they even built another one. Florence cared for the wounded soldiers so much that every night she carried a lantern and walked from bed to bed for hours. She wanted to make sure the soldiers were comfortable. Because of this, the soldiers started calling Florence “The Lady with the Lamp.” They always looked forward to her visits. As she passed their beds, and her shadow fell across the walls, some soldiers reached out to kiss it. They were very thankful that Florence had come to help them. Because of Florence and the other nurses, the mortality rate among the sick and the wounded was greatly reduced.
Sometimes, Florence worked straight through the night and didn t sleep. She worked very hard to make others happy. Because of all of her hard work, she became sick herself in May, 1855. She was near death for two weeks. Fortunately, within a few months she recovered and was back to work.
The people back in England were very proud of Florence. In a letter that Parthenope wrote to Florence, she said, “The people love you.” Poems and songs were written about her. Babies were named Florence in her honor. Money was collected for a fund called the “Nightingale Fund.” A lot of the money was donated by thankful soldiers. Later, Florence used the money to set up a school for nurses.
In March, 1856 the Crimean War ended, and Florence could return home. A parade and many other celebrations were planned for her return to honor her. Because so many people had died in the war, Florence didn t feel like celebrating. She came home quietly and refused to “make a show” of herself. When she returned, Florence was thirty six years old. She was still a young woman, but her past illnesses had left her weak.
She became very sick again in 1857. She was ill yet again in 1861. From then on, she stayed at home most of the time and worked there. She worked on writing. She was happy because she was surrounded by the things she loved: papers, notebooks, and many cats.
Queen Victoria admired Florence a great deal. She supported Florence s push for improved medical care for the British soldiers. Because of this, a Royal Commission was started. Florence gave the commission a 1,000 page report. It was called Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army. As a result of her work, the living conditions and medical care given to British soldiers were greatly improved.
Because Florence stayed at home most of the time, she was able to write many books. In 1859, two of her books were published. They were Notes on Nursing and Notes on Hospitals. Her book, Notes on Nursing, was the first textbook for nurses, which was translated into many languages. In 1861, Florence Nightingale advised the United States Secretary of War on setting up army hospitals for those injured in the American Civil War. She also advised on improving health conditions in India.
In 1860, Florence Nightingale founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at Saint Thomas’s Hospital in London. She used the money that she raised from her two books and the Nightingale Fund. The opening of this school marked the beginning of professional education in nursing. Florence s nurses were called “Nightingales.” They were very well trained. Often, they came to Florence for her blessing before they began their work. When a “Nightingale” was sent to do a duty in a far away place, Florence sent them flowers to greet them when they arrived at their stations. Nursing schools in Europe and America followed the example of the Nightingale School.
Florence was getting very weak. She was getting sick very often. In 1895, she went blind. Soon after, she lost most all of her other functions. She required full-time nursing.
In 1907 Florence was eighty seven years old. She was awarded the Order of Merit by King Edward VII of England for all the work that she did for other people. She was the first woman to ever win the award. On August 13, 1910, when she was ninety years old, Florence Nightingale died quietly in her sleep. Even though she died, her life s work survived. She helped make hospitals clean and efficient. She helped make nursing an important, respected profession. Florence Nightingale helped change the world around her into a better, more caring place. In 1915 the Crimean Monument in Waterloo Place, London, was erected in her honor.
Florence Nightingale has affected the course of human history in many ways. She worked to make hospitals as good and as hospitable as they could be. That is why hospitals are so good and clean today. She also worked to make nursing an important and well respected profession. Florence Nightingale changed the lives of those around her and those who heard about her. She was a great inspiration to others who wanted to make a difference in the world.
One way that Florence Nightingale made hospitals like they are today is that she insisted that the wounded soldiers of the Crimean War have a nice place to get better and rest. She wanted them to have good food, and enough warm blankets and clothing. She also wanted the living quarters to be like home. She insisted that the hospitals be rodent free. She also made sure that the hospitals were not smelly.
Florence Nightingale wanted to make the patients as happy and as comfortable as possible. She made them feel at home when they were at war and sick or injured. Her altruistic attitude made the soldiers feel better. Just by caring for them, she had a huge impact on them. Since she was so uplifting, she inspired the soldiers to be the same way. She made war a better place. She made the soldiers feel better. When she walked from bed to bed in the darkest hours of the night, she made the soldiers know that someone cares for them. In doing this, she made the world a much better place.
Florence Nightingale made nursing an important and vary respected profession. Before Florence became a nurse, nurses knew very little about disease and nursing. They didn t care about the patients or the living conditions. Before Florence, nursing was thought to be a dirty job. The nurses were often depressed and became nurses because they had nowhere else to go.
Florence didn t want to be a nurse just because she needed a job. She wanted to be a nurse to help people. It was her duty to be a nurse because God called her to do so. She truly cared. Because she cared, she made sure that the hospitals were clean. She also made sure that her patients were comfortable.
Because Florence was so determined to be a good nurse, she inspired others to do the same. She led the way to making nursing a desirable job. She led other women to be nurses like her so that they could also help those in need. She was a pioneer to help others. She set up a school for nurses in order to allow nurses to get the proper education. She really wanted to make nursing better, and she made it easier for others who wanted to be good nurses like her to do so.
Florence Nightingale changed the lives of those around her. She made the soldiers happier. Because of her, they knew that someone cared for them. Florence wanted to care for the sick to make them feel better. Not only did she make them physically feel better, but because of her caring nurture, she made the soldiers feel better in their hearts, too.
When Florence s “Nightingales” was sent to a far off place to care for the sick and wounded soldiers, she sent flowers to them. She wanted to make them feel welcome. She also wanted to make them feel as at home as possible. Florence just wanted to brighten the day of that nurse who might be a bit scared. Florence cared deeply for others.
Even before Florence was a nurse she cared for others. She cared for them by just being nice. Before Florence knew that her calling was to be a nurse, she was helping others. She gave food to the hungry. She gave medicine to the sick. She gave clothes and blankets to the cold. She gave what she had to the poor people who could not afford those things. Florence Nightingale was a very benevolent person. She cared for others who she didn t even know.
Because Florence Nightingale was so brave and courageous in pursuing her dream, she was, and still is, an inspiration to others. When Florence s parents forbade her to go to nursing school and become a nurse, Florence never gave up hope. She kept her dream in her mind always. Florence always looked for her parents affirmation. Because of her consistency in pursuing her dream, Florence finally was allowed to go to nursing school and become a nurse.
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