Florence Nightingale made great strides in the evolution of nursing. Her actions in the 1800s revolutionized the nursing profession and the care of patients. The Lady with the Lamp became an important figure within medicine and the changes that she made to nursing have saved millions of lives.
Born in 1820, Nightingale received training in languages, mathematics, and other disciplines as a young girl. In 1837, she reported that she heard the voice of God telling her that she had a mission in her life. She came to believe that this mission rested in nursing others who were sick or injured.
Traveling to Prussia, Nightingale participated in a program designed to teach girls and young women to nurse. When she left the school, she worked in Paris for a brief time for a Sisters of Mary hospital. Even this early, those who came into contact with her often respected her opinions, thoughts, and acts highly.
In 1853, Nightingale returned to England where she became the superintendent of the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in London. She received no pay for the position. Shortly after taking the position, reports began to circulate in England about the poor conditions for injured and sick soldiers in the Crimean War.
Nightingale gathered thirty-eight other women and together they left for Scutari, Turkey. From 1854 to 1856, she headed up nursing in the military hospitals. One of the things that Nightingale focused on was improving sanitation within the hospitals. She ordered additional clothing and bedding and raised funds from individuals back in England to support her efforts.
Soon, the mortality rate in the hospitals Nightingale oversaw nursing in dropped from 60 percent to 2 percent. She also used her background in mathematics to conducted statistical studies of disease and mortality. She became the general superintendent for the Female Nursing Establishment of the Military Hospitals of the Army in 1856.
When she returned to England, Nightingale continued the evolution of nursing. She helped found the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army and advised government officials on sanitation issues in India. She also started a school to train other nurses in London.
Nightingale suffered from an unknown illness after she returned from the Crimean War, although she continued to write about nursing and sanitation issues. By 1901, she was blind. In 1907, she received the Order of Merit from the King. She died in 1910.
The evolution of nursing has been greatly impacted by the work of Florence Nightingale. She brought many new advances to the discipline of nursing and helped make it a highly respected position for individuals to take. Her dedication to improving conditions for injured and sick individuals, as well as training others in her met