Florence Nightingale – “The Lady with the Lamp”

Nursing i.e. taking care of the sick and ailing is one of the noble professions. When you visit a hospital, you will notice that along with the doctors, nurses too work to take care of the patients. Florence Nightingale is one name which gave the nursing profession its true face and worth. She is considered as the founder of modern nursing.

Florence, was born to a rich and wealthy British family in Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820. Her parents, William and Fanny Nightingale had an older daughter too. In those days, most girls didn’t go to school. But William wanted their daughters to learn on various subjects like science, history and math. The wealthy women were expected to get married and look after their households. Florence certainly did not want this kind of life. She was meant to be different. At age 16, she heard a voice from God calling for her to serve others. She wanted to be a nurse. Nursing then was not considered a profession for wealthy women as they would have to work in ill-maintained hospitals. After a lot of persuasion, Florence managed to obtain the consent of her father and she proceeded to study nursing at a Christian school for women in Germany.

By 1853, she was running a women’s hospital in London and improved the working conditions in the hospital. She was bringing her education in practice. The Crimean war broke out and it was fought between the Russian Empire on one side against an alliance of Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia. The news of wounded soldiers dying due to lack of basic medical attention spread far and wide. Florence Nightingale received a letter from the Secretary of War, Sidney Herbett and he requested her to travel to Crimea and organise a group of nurses to take control of the situation. Florence with great effort selected her team and ensured that they took control over the hospital and saw to it that all the wounded soldiers were treated well. With funds from back home, she bought better medical equipment and decent food and improved the recovery rate of the ailing soldiers.

The efforts of Florence and her team were highly appreciated by the wounded soldiers and slowly positive news reached back home. During her time in Crimea, she was known as the “Lady with the lamp “for her compassionate late night rounds among those wounded in war.

After the Crimea war she caused a reform by writing letters to important people telling them about the apathy of Army hospitals. Post which, the Army started to train doctors, hospitals became cleaner and soldiers were provided with better clothing, food and care. She was also the author of many books on medical and nursing subjects, doing much to build up the image of nurses working in English hospitals considered at that time to be places of degradation and filth.

During her final 40 years she spent many days confined to bed. She changed the face of nursing and truly believed that answering of the “Heavenly call” changed so many lives and would continue to cause a sea change in the world of nursing. She breathed her last on  August 13, 1910. Thus, this was the wonderful life of Florence Nightingale who only thought of taking up challenges and making her life well lived with a purpose.

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