Distinguished Women of Past and Present


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Florence Nightingale

From: Italy, United Kingdom
Fields: Education, Health and Medicine, Mathematics
Key Words/Phrases: nurse, statistician, Crimean War, nurse training
Nightingale, Florence (1820-1910), British nurse, hospital reformer, and humanitarian. Born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820, Nightingale was raised mostly in Derbyshire, England, and received a thorough classical education from her father. In 1849 she went abroad to study the European hospital system, and in 1850 she began training in nursing at the Institute of Saint Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt. She subsequently studied at the Institute for Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, Germany. In 1853 she became superintendent of the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London. After the Crimean War broke out in 1854, Nightingale, stirred by reports of the primitive sanitation methods and grossly inadequate nursing facilities at the large British barracks-hospital at Uskudar (now part of Istanbul, Turkey), dispatched a letter to the British secretary of war, volunteering her services in the Crimea. At the same time, unaware of her action, the minister of war proposed that she assume direction of all nursing operations at the war front. She set out for Uskudar accompanied by 38 nurses. Under Nightingale's supervision, efficient nursing departments were established at Uskudar and later at Balaklava in the Crimea. Through her tireless efforts the mortality rate among the sick and the wounded was greatly reduced. At the close of the war in 1860, with a fund raised in tribute to her services, Nightingale founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at Saint Thomas's Hospital in London. The opening of this school marked the beginning of professional education in nursing. Florence Nightingale's contributions to the evolution of nursing as a profession were invaluable. Before she undertook her reforms, nurses were largely untrained personnel who considered their job a menial chore; through her efforts the stature of nursing was raised to a medical profession with high standards of education and important responsibilities. She received many honors from foreign governments and in 1907 became the first woman to receive the British Order of Merit. She died in London on August 13, 1910. In 1915 the Crimean Monument in Waterloo Place, London, was erected in her honor. Her writings include Notes on Nursing (1860), the first textbook for nurses, which was translated into many languages. Among her other writings are Notes on Hospitals (1859) and Notes on Nursing for the Labouring Classes (1861).

"Nightingale, Florence" Microsoft® Encarta.
Copyright© 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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