Florence Nightingale was a Victorian rebel.
Born into a well-connected British family, Nightingale was expected to marry well and produce a bevy of children, the same as any wealthy young lady of that era. But Nightingale followed a different path, one that would put her at odds with her beloved family and one that she believed to be a calling from God. Florence Nightingale became a nurse.
In 1854 (CrimeanWar), Nightingale and 38 volunteer nurses set off for Scutari, Turkey after hearing about the deplorable conditions of the wounded British soldiers. When she arrived, the situation was much worse than she had anticipated. The soldiers were malnourished and without proper bedding, and many were filthy and still wearing their gore-covered uniforms. In addition, she soon learned that the army hospital was built on a massive cesspool, which was poisoning the drinking water and the building itself.
Nightingale focused her attention on improving the hospital’s sanitation, nutrition, and activities for the patients, despite the many obstacles thrown her way by doctors and military officials. Within the first six months, the number of deaths from preventable diseases reduced by two-thirds. Amazing, huh? Although Nightingale’s health was never quite the same after her stint in Turkey, she continued fighting for hospital reform long after she returned to England.
In 1860, Nightingale saw another one of her passions realized—a training school for nurses. Housed at St. Thomas’ Hospital, the Nightingale Training School opened its doors to fifteen intrepid probationers. It was then modern trained nursing was born.
These are a just few of the reasons why I find Florence Nightingale fascinating. I haven’t even touched on the impact she had on empowering women, improving Britain’s sanitation, introducing visual statistical graphs, and redesigning hospital floor plans.
Do you find Miss Nightingale fascinating, too?