Florence Nightingale

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Florence is probably the most influential English woman the world knows little about. She worked tirelessly to improve the health and sanitation of the British military and the civilians of England and British colonies. Her work in the Crimean war in Scutari became her most notable achievement and debut of her public life. She further initiated numerous reform agendas in the healthcare world. She remains a major point of influence in the nursing profession as the founder. Among other achievements, she literally changed the nursing profession to fit the women.


Florence nightingale was born on the 12th day of May the year 1820 as a second child in Italy. Her parents, William and Frances nightingale were wealthy and respected citizens of the England. William Nightingale had even contested for a political position at some point in his life but lost. Florence began showing a lot of interest in intellectual things from an earlier age in her life. This made her father joyful and he heavily invested in her education. They lived in England at the Lea Hurst and Embley Park.
Florence began showing an interest and passion for the needy and suffering despite living in a wealthy family. According to scholars who wrote her biographies, she displayed the characteristics of a sensitive and introspective person. Others described her as of a morbid and a strong perfectionist nature. This prompted her vision to improve the living conditions of people in the world. Her personality was also characterized by deep religious reflections. She always explained that she God had called her to offer help to the suffering. According to her, the highest honor resided in becoming a servant and coworker of God. This strong and intense drive to change the life of the human race landed her into the field of nursing.

Path to the Nursing Career

Despite her desire to help humanity, she began her professional career as a statistician. She however used her statistical prowess in demonstrating to the authorities the need for improving the health and sanitation of the people. Her efforts greatly contributed in the improvement of the health and sanitation of the British army, the civilian hospitals, workhouses and homecare. She further made efforts to improve the healthcare laws of England and India. She is finally credited with founding the profession of nursing.
Nightingale began her work in hospitals in 1844. However, she did not advance her work at the hospitals for a period of nine years. This was because of the restrictions of the society that forbade women from taking the nursing profession.

Historical Era and Achievements

Nightingale lived in the era where she the British army was out fighting wars and building colonies. This prompted her appointment to the department war by Sidney Herbert, the secretary of war. She was charged with the responsibility of commanding a group of women on a mission to care for the wounded soldiers in the Crimean war in Scutari, Turkey. She found a horrible situation in the hospitals in Scutari; a situation that prompted the death of many of the wounded soldiers admitted in the hospitals. She immediately embarked on a reform agenda to improve the conditions of the hospital. Her work in the Crimean war proved the highlight of her achievements in the improvement of the nursing care.

During her work in the Scutari hospitals, she greatly improved the sanitary conditions of the military hospitals and the theatre in Crimean apart from nursing the sick and wounded. By the beginning of 1859, her reform agenda had taken the whole of the war office administration into action. This also saw the formation of the Nightingale fund that was basically used to improve health and sanitation.

She also successfully managed to reorganize the war office though after a long struggle with the anti-reformists such as Hawes. The death of her two min right hand officials in the war administration office ended the reform agenda. She finally managed to reorganize the office into four sub departments. The first sub department had the responsibility of ensuring the construction of barracks and the improvement thereof, upgrading of the drainage and ventilation system and improvement of barracks.
The second sub commission was responsible the organization of the statistical issues of the army. This brought the excellence of the British army statistics. This has placed them as the army with the best statistical organization in the continent of Europe. The third sub commission had the responsibility of forming and organizing a medical school for the army. She directly nominated professors into the school and contributed in the formation of the curriculum.

The fourth sub-commission was charged with the responsibility of restructuring the medical department of the army. Their work span included the revision of hospital regulations and overseeing the promotion of medical department officers. They further worked towards the introduction of the sanitary code of the military into the army. She finally used the sub-commission to fight for the introduction of female nurses in the hospitals of the military. The establishment of recreational centers in the barracks and army posts also came through this sub commission.

Apart from the immense work she did at the military of the English army, Florence also worked towards the alleviation of health conditions of the civilian English people and the British colonies especially India. Her reform agenda worked for the good of the civilian hospitals and workhouses. She further spearheaded the establishment of the first professional nursing schools where the public could acquire knowledge on nursing and midwifery. She also notably wrote heavily on nursing and sanitation, literature that helped in the study and establishment of nursing.

Barriers and Obstacles She Faced

The dream of Florence Nightingale to serve as a nurse met reaction from both her family and the ethics of the profession. This is because the nursing career was only preserved for the men given that nursing was majorly practiced on war fronts. She however successfully managed to change this belief by serving as the first female nurse in the army. In addition, she became successful in the introduction of other female nurses in the military.

Florence also faced considerable opposition in the formation and implementation of her health and sanitation reform agenda in the war commission office. Hawes who served in the department as a sub commission head notably led the oppositions. His opposition nearly brought the reform agenda into a halt especially after the death of Herbert, the head of the war commission. However, the later death of Hawes and the installation of an ally of Florence into the war commission office helped in the revamping of the reforms.

The deaths of such people as Commissioner Herbert, Arthur Clough and George Lewis also became a barrier in the quest for change. This is because these people had upheld the reformations that Florence had introduced despite oppositions. Their death meant a loss of progress and caused much devastation for Florence Nightingale.

Global Impacts

Florence Nightingale first steps out as the mother and founder of the nursing profession. her numerous reforms in the health and sanitation of the British military and other entities provided for the subsequent reforms in other countries starting from the colonies of the British. She is credited with the formation of the first professional nursing and midwifery schools.
The nursing profession also enjoys great resources and influence from her publications. Two of her most influential books include notes on nursing and notes on hospitals, all of which were published in 1859. The books greatly contributed in the introduction and perfection of health and sanitation in hospitals across the world. The book on notes on hospitals used statistics in tracing and explaining the origin of the high mortality rates. She cited reasons such as poor ventilation, poor drainage system and overcrowding in hospitals and health facilities.

The book on notes on nursing was largely for women. Its content had notes on how to provide nursing care to their families. Nonetheless, the book also held great significance and respect in the practice of professional nursing. This is because it had a wealth of information on hygiene, preventive medicine and care for the sick.

The experience on statistics and collection of data gave her the need to push for equal and uniform statistics on hospitals. This prompted her preparation of a model of statistical data collection forms for use in hospitals. Florence presented the model to the international statistical congress that was convened in 1860. The model also touted for the setting up of a mechanism of having uniform statistical in hospitals across the world. The congress made a positive response to the model by giving its approval. The congress further resolved to communicate the resolution to respective governments represented in the event.
The works and publications of Florence on sanitation gained influence even in other social fronts such as workhouses and the housing sector. The constructions of barracks and infirmaries would soon change to feature the Florence Nightingale model. The livelihood and living conditions of both civilians and military personnel took a turn for the better. The health of the British colonies also received an improvement through her inputs.


In the words of the Lord Mayor of London on the 15th day of august 1910, Florence Nightingale was probably the greatest Englishwoman to have ever lived. The death of Florence Nightingale, which occurred in August 13th, 1910 met tears and sorrows. She probably serves as the only woman in the history of humanity to have influenced such a great movement in the world including the introduction of the nursing profession.