Lady with the Lamp
Florence Nightingale is a medical folk heroine best known for her great work as a nurse during the Crimean War of 1854. She was also a legend for her valuable contributions to the improvement of the sanitary conditions in the military field hospitals. This folk heroine is called the Lady with the Lamp who made significant contributions in the field of medicine.
She was named after Florence, the city where she was born on May 12, 1820. Her early education was placed in the hands of the British government where her family moved when she was young. Her father – a student of Cambridge - took over that responsibility and it was noted that she had the natural ability for studying. Under his influence she became acquainted with the famous classics, Aristotle, Euclid, political matters and more.
At 24 years of age, when the Crimean War started (Turkey, France and Britain declared war on Russia) she was asked in a letter from the British Secretary for War and friend Sidney Herbert to be a nursing administrator to help improve care in the British military hospitals.
When she arrived in Scutari, Turkey to work she learned that various diseases like typhus and cholera were rampant in the hospitals. Injured soldiers were seven times more likely to die from the disease in hospital than on the field. While there she organized a record keeping system and collected data that later would help improve military and city hospitals.
Under her supervision the mortality rate dropped significantly. She used her own funds to buy vegetables, fruits and standard hospital equipment, including a supply of fresh water. She also spent long hours in the ward, giving personal care to the injured and wounded.
This was when she earned the nickname, “Lady with the Lamp”.
More interesting facts about her:
- She became bedridden because of an illness contracted in the Crimea.
- She published 200 books, pamphlets and reports, including Notes on Nursing, used to teach nurses and translated into various languages.
- Her efforts to formalize nursing education led to the establishment of the very first scientifically based nursing school that opened in 1860 – the Nightingale School of Nursing.
An International Nurses Day is observed yearly on May 12 to commemorate her birth as well as to celebrate the vital role of nurses in health care.
Happy Birthday Florence Nightingale!