Florence Nightengale - who is she?

  1. Just curious. Since Florence Nightengale is the "Mother of Modern Nursing" or something like that, what do nurses know about her or think about her? Any comments would be appreciated.
  2. Visit abrenrn profile page

    About abrenrn

    Joined: Oct '02; Posts: 228; Likes: 2


  3. by   semstr
    Anne, ask Florry from Norway, she's a FN-groupie.
  4. by   nightingale
    There are many links if you do a Search. I willl post one from her museum site in London here:


    Early Years

    Florence Nightingale was born in Italy on 12 May 1820 and was named Florence after her birthplace. 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 first daughter, Parthenope, was born in Naples (Parthenope being the Greek name for the 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 is now a school.

    Call From God

    Florence and Parthenope were taught at home by their Cambridge University educated father. Florence was an academic child, who loved her lessons and found studying easy, 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.

    The years of struggle and the visit to Kaiserswerth

    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 Selina 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 at Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf. The following year Florence Nightingale returned to Kaiserswerth and undertook three months nurse 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.

    The Crimean War

    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 criticised 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 the British soldiers.

    The introduction of female nurses to the military hospitals was an outstanding success, and to show the nation's gratitude for Miss 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. By 1860 the Royal Commission had resulted in an Army Medical School, greatly improved Army barracks and hospitals, and the best army statistics in Europe.

    During the decade from 1862 her main concerns were the health of the Army in India and the state of Indian public health, the development of irrigation and the system of land tenure. 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 till her death.

    Nightingale Training School for Nurses

    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 Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas' Hospital. Mrs Sarah Wardroper, Matron 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, scrutinised the probationers' ward diaries and reports.

    From 1872 Miss 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 Miss 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 nurse training schools on the 'Nightingale Model.'

    In 1860 Florence Nightingale's 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 has been translated into eleven foreign languages and is still in print today.

    Public Health 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 and many Nightingale trained nurses became pioneers in this field.

    Old Age

    Although Florence Nightingale was bedridden due to illness contracted in the Crimea for many years, she campaigned tirelessly to improve health standards,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.

    Florence Nightingale was more than a romantic heroine. Her farsighted reforms have influenced the nature of modern health care and her writings continue to be a resource for nurses, health managers and planners.

    Here is where the museum is located:

    One of my favorite nursing books is, "Notes On Nursing" authored by F. Nightingale. She was a legend because of her methodical approach to nursing. Among achievements she brought the theory of sanitation and documentation to the forefront of nursing.

    She is.. one of my heros....
    Last edit by nightingale on Oct 11, '02
  5. by   purplemania
    Thank you for the map. I have been to London twice but have yet to tour the museum. I plan to do so next visit. What sort of illness did she contract? I heard it was more psychological - meaning she escaped from responsibility by hiding out in the bedroom. Do you have any info? BTW, she was instrumental in getting nurses recognized as professionals who based practice on evidence. Sounds like a tough lady.
  6. by   florry
    I cant do anything but smile....This was funny. The best selection!

    Selfironic hug from
    Her Royal Highness
    Florry from N
  7. by   nightingale

    I do not really know. To be honest, I rather like the positive image of her and do not delve into those sort sordid type tales regarding her.
  8. by   florry
    Originally posted by purplemania
    Thank you for the map. I have been to London twice but have yet to tour the museum. I plan to do so next visit. What sort of illness did she contract? I heard it was more psychological - meaning she escaped from responsibility by hiding out in the bedroom. Do you have any info? BTW, she was instrumental in getting nurses recognized as professionals who based practice on evidence. Sounds like a tough lady.
    Yes, you are wright. After the Crimian War, she become what we today maybe would have named Post Traum. Stress Syndrome.
    She lived in her appartement in the very best end of London, South Street (its only a Blue badge there now, and a new building),

    But remember; she was a rich lady, and actually never had to work. That was her parents problems! A lady from the UPPER CLASS doing NURSING.....

    After the war, the picture we got here in the discussion group from super moderator was taken after she come home t. LONDONthin, depressed (?), with short hair (you know; victorian ladies allways had long, beautiful hair..) and after she had had colera.

    Its one of the few pictures of her after her career as a nurse in the battle.

    I'll stop now, because maybe this is booring to you, but my personal Blure Badge Guide in London has told me A LOT OF INTERESTING THING.

  9. by   florry
    Originally posted by nightngale1998

    I do not really know. To be honest, I rather like the positive image of her and do not delve into those sort sordid type tales regarding her.

    Maybe I have misunderstood, but I am interested in both what FN. did for nursing, but also her personallity, her motive, her devotion to that kind of work (she had esp. her family against her).

    She never married, and it was very rare in 1850. She "married her job". In London I have seen one painted picture of her (very rare),with an engagering on. This was on a museum in east London.

    I think she struggled alot about that, and the sources about her friend Richard wasn't mentioned in the biography by Cook from 1913, shortly after her dead. C. W. Smith, the later biography about FN says more about her fiance Richard. Well, I think its interesting to view different side of history in general and FN spes. Just for expand my horisont, not for "big-brother mentallity".

    From Florry
  10. by   nightingale
    I understand florry.. I guess I am rather over protective of the image... I agree it is interesting.

    I hope others post with what they know because it is interesting, I agree.
  11. by   abrenrn
    Thanks guys.

    I have only recently turned into a Flo groupie with some reservations. I wonder, though, how I managed to get through a BS program, MS program and many years of nursing without finding this stuff out. I'm not a bad student, had Flo been presented fully, I would have remembered. Generally she was presented as a rigid, archaic figure, obsessed with cleanliness and windows.

    I appreciate this info, hoping to find out if there were others who missed the true accomplishments too. I sense I was not alone in my ignorance and wonder why.

    Hope to keep reading more, my knowledge is both new and incomplete.
  12. by   florry
    Hello nightngale 1998!

    I can see that you are asking: who Florence Nightingale really was, and then I think you can read the very informative book by Cook.E.; The life of Florence Nightingale"New York: The Macmillian Company; 1942 and the book by C-w Smith "Florence Nightingale 1820 - 1910. London fontana books 1977. AND THEN TRY TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION! Theese two sources are really importent for excact. that quest.

    I would of course share the thoughts you migth have, but; maybe its better to focus on certain issue about her comlex personallity....

    I cant tell you who she was, but by studying, thinking, discussing over years, I have some maybe diffuse opinions,- about her as a nurse, organizer, lady, about her religion, as a woman in war even in peace......witch is very difficult for me to explain in a foreign language. But I am trying....

    Was that an answer?
  13. by   nightingale
    That helps, thank you. But do.. do talk about what you know. I learn SO much form the feedback of colleagues on this board.
  14. by   Gotalovethekids
    One book I've read that talked of her stated a theory that some of her illness could be related to lead poisoning. They feel that she could have been exposed to it at the family's summer home in Lea Hurst. We studied her some in school and I took a special "Janurary-term" class about the history of nursing where we took a trip to London and visited the museum and some other interesting places related to the development of nursing!