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Florence Nightingale Essays

Florence Nightingale, OM (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910), was an Englishnurse. She helped create the modern techniques of nursing. She became a leader of the team of nurses who helped woundedsoldiers during the Crimean War.

She was the first female to receive the Order of Merit, the highest honour awarded to a British person. As a nurse she was given the name 'The Lady with the Lamp' because at night, she checked on the wounded soldiers and always carried 'The Lamp' with her. Florence Nightingale was a wonderful woman who fought the odds of not living a life expected by her family. She helped make modern nursing possible. Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer, and lived to be 90 years old.

Her writings[change | change source]

In her lifetime she was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Some of her books were written in simple English so that they could easily be understood by those with poor reading skills. She also was an early user of graphs and diagrams to display data.

Nightingale was helped to understand statistics by her country's leading expert on public statistics, William Farr. He was a founder of medical statistics, and epidemiology. Farr worked with her on all the statistics from the Crimean War, which she publicised in her writing. She proved that more men had died from disease than fighting, a very important piece of information. The disease in question was mostly cholera. Cholera is caused by a bacterium which is spread by people drinking water which is contaminated by sewage. Unfortunately, both she and Farr believed the disease was caused by foul air: this was called the miasma theory.

The miasma theory was refuted by John Snow, who discovered the real cause of an outbreak in London.[1] The cause was foul water from a water pump in Broad Street, London. Snow's work was published in 1855,[2][3] but it was 30 years before the germ theory was generally accepted. Farr publicly acknowledged he was wrong in 1866,[4] but Nightingale never really gave up the miasma idea. London's cholera epidemics stopped once the authorities built sewage treatment plants, delivered cleaner water, and built a system of underground pipes which kept sewage from seeping into the water supply.

Life[change | change source]

Florence Nightingale was born into an upper classBritish family in 1820 in Florence, Tuscany, Italy. She was named after the town where she was born. The family moved back to London when Florence was a young girl. She was a Unitarian. Although her parents expected her to become a wife and a mother, in 1845 she decided to become a nurse. While she was training she campaigned for better conditions for poor people in Britain.

In 1854 when the Crimean War began, Florence was working in Harley Street in London. After reading many reports about the poor treatment of sick and injured soldiers, she travelled to Crimea to see for herself and discovered the hospitals were crowded and dirty.

She knew Sidney Herbert, who was Secretary of War during the Crimean War and he helped her. At the hospital in Istanbul where the injured soldiers were sent, Florence realized that soldiers died more often from diseases like cholera than from their injuries in war. She used her knowledge of maths and statistics to show the British government that providing better conditions for sick and injured soldiers would help them win the war. She was, however, quite wrong about how cholera spread.

There is a syndrome named after her called "Florence Nightingale Syndrome". It occurs when a soldier falls in love with a nurse. While she was working in Crimea she became known as “The Lady with the Lamp” because she would walk around the hospital in the evening carrying a lamp and check on the soldiers.

When she returned to England she started a school in 1860 for nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. She wrote her most important book Notes on Nursing. She was a keen Christian but also believed that pagan and eastern religions also contained genuine worth. She was a strong opponent of discrimination against all types of Christians as well as against non-Christians. Nightingale believed religion helped provide people with the fortitude for arduous good work.

In 1907, Florence Nightingale became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit by King Edward VII.

Nightingale died in 1910 in London. There are many statues of her in Britain, including one in Waterloo Place in London and a Florence Nightingale museum, also in London.

References[change | change source]

"Diagram of the causes of mortality in the army in the East" by Florence Nightingale
  1. ↑Hempel, Sandra 2006. The medical detective: John Snow, cholera, and the mystery of the Broad Street pump. Granta Books. ISBN 1862078424
  2. ↑Snow, John 1855. On the mode of communication of cholera. London.
  3. ↑An account in Lewes F. 1983. William Farr and cholera. Population trends 31. London: HMSO.
  4. ↑Competing theories of cholera

Florence Nightingale

“Florence Nightingale is most remembered as a pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospital sanitation methods. For most of her ninety years Nightingale pushed for reform of the British military health- care system and with that the profession of nursing started to gain the respect it deserved. Unknown to many, however, was her use of new techniques of statistical analysis, such as during the Crimean War when she plotted the incidence of preventable deaths in the military. She developed the “polar-area diagram” to dramatize the needless deaths caused by unsanitary conditions and the need for reform.  ”.

Florence Nightingale was born in Italy on May 123, 1820 and was named Florence after the city where she was born. Her parents, William Edward and Frances Nightingale were a wealthy couple who had toured Europe for two years on their honeymoon. During their travels their fist daughter, Parthenope, was born in Naples (Parthenope being the Greek name for the ancient city), followed one year later by Florence. On returning to England the Nightingales divided their time between two homes. In the summer months they lived at Lea Hurst in Derbyshire, moving to Embley in Hampshire for the winter. Lea Hurst is now a retirement home and Embley as a School.

Florence and Parthenope were taught at home by their Cambridge University educated father. Florence was an academic child while her sister excelled at painting and needlework. Florence grew up to be a lively and attractive young woman, admired in the family’s social circle and she was expected to make a good marriage, but Florence had other concerns. In 1837, whilst in the gardens at Embley, Florence had what she described as her ‘calling’. Florence heard the voice of God calling her to do his work but at this time she had no idea what that work would be.

Florence developed an interest in the social questions of the day, made visits to the homes of the sick in the local villages and began to investigate hospitals and nursing. Her parents refused to allow her to become a nurse as in the mid-nineteenth century it was not considered a suitable profession for a well educated woman. While the family conflicts over Florence’s future remained unresolved it was decided that Florence would tour Europe with some family friends, Charles and Sehna Bracebridge. The three travelled to Italy, Egypt and Greece, returning in July 1850 through Germany where they visited Pastor Theodor Fliedner’s hospital and school for deaconesses Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf. The following year Florence Nightingale retuned to Kasiserswerth and undertook three months nursing training which enabled her to take a vacancy as Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen during illness at No. 1 Harley Street, London in 1853.

In March 1854 Britain, France and Turkey declared war on Russia. The allies defeated the Russians at the battle of the Alma in September but reports in the Times criticized the British medical facilities for the wounded. In response, Sidney Herbert, the Minister at War, who knew Florence Nightingale socially and through her work at Harley Street, appointed her to oversee the introduction of female nurses into the military hospitals in Turkey. On 4 November 1854, Florence Nightingale arrived at the Barrack Hospital in Scutari, a suburb on the Asian side of Constantinople, with the party of 38 nurses. Initially the doctors did not want the nurses there and did not ask for their help but within ten days fresh casualties arrived from the battle of Inkermann and the nurses were fully stretched.

The ‘Lady-in-Chief’, as Florence was called, wrote home on behalf of the soldiers. She acted as a banker, sending the men’s wages home to their families, and introduced reading rooms to the hospital./ in return she gained the undying respect of outstanding success and to show the nations’ gratitude for Florence Nightingale’s hard work a public subscription was organised in November 1855. The money collected was to enable Florence Nightingale to continue her reform of nursing in the civil hospitals of Britain.

When Florence Nightingale returned from the Crimean War in August 1856, four months after the peace treaty was signed, she hid herself away from the public’s attention. In November 1856 Miss Nightingale took a hotel room in London which became the centre for the campaign for a Royal Commission to investigate the health of the British Army. When Sidney Herbert was appointed Chairman, she continued as a driving force behind the scenes.

For her contribution to Army statistics and comparative hospital statistics in 1860 Florence Nightingale became the first woman to be elected a fellow of the Statistical Society. In 1865, she settled at 10 South Street, Mayfair, in the West End of London and apart from occasional visits to Embley, Lea Hurst and to her sister at Claydon House she lived there until her death.

Florence Nightingale’s greatest achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for women. In 1860, with the public subscriptions of the Nightingale fund, she established the Florence Nightingale Training School for nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital. Mrs. Sarah Wardroper, Matorn at St. Thomas’, became the head of the new school. The probationer nurses received a year’s training which included some lectures but was mainly practical ward work under the supervision of the ward sister. “Miss Nightingale “, as she was always called by the nurses, scrutinized the probationers’ ward diaries and reports.

From 1872 Florence Nightingale devoted closer attention to the organisation of the School and almost annually for the next thirty years she wrote an open letter to the nurses and probationers giving advice and encouragement. On completion of training Florence Nightingale gave the nurses books and invited them to tea. Once trained the nurses were sent to staff hospitals in Britain and abroad and to establish nursing training schools on the Nightingale model. In 1860 her best known work, Notes on Nursing, was published. It laid down the principles of nursing, careful observation and sensitivity to the patient’s needs. Notes on Nursing were translated into eleven foreign languages and is still in print today.

Florence Nightingale’s writings on hospital planning and organisation had a profound effect in England and across the world. Miss Nightingale was the principal advocate of the ‘pavilion’ plan for hospitals in Britain.

Like her friend, the public health reformer Edwin Chadwick, Florence Nightingale believed that infection arose spontaneously in dirty and poorly ventilated places. This mistaken belief nevertheless led to improvements in hygiene and healthier living and working environments. Florence Nightingale also advised and supported William Rathbone in the development of district nursing in Liverpool many Nightingale trained nurses became pioneers in this field.

Although Florence Nightingale was bedridden for many years, she campaigned tirelessly to improve health standard, publishing 200 books, reports and pamphlets. In recognition of her hard work Queen Victoria awarded Miss Nightingale the Royal Red Cross in 1883. In her old age she received many honours, including the Order of Merit (1907) becoming the first woman to receive it. Florence Nightingale died at home at the age of 90 on 13 August 1910 and according to her wishes she was buried at St. Margaret’s, East Wellow, near her parent’s home, Embley Park in Hampshire. Karl Pearson acknowledge Nightingale as a “prophetess” in the development of applied statistics.

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