Founder of modern nursing profession:
Florence Nightingale contributed unique service
May 12th is named as the International Nursing Day to honour the
birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of the modern nursing
profession. Her invaluable service rendered to nursing and the devotion
of establishing the standards of the nursing profession systematically
and scientifically is celebrated throughout the world as International
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, to well-to-do parents
at their temporary residence in Florence, Italy. Named for her
birthplace, she grew up in Derbyshire, Hampshire and London where her
birth family maintain temporary homes. Nightingale was educated largely
by her father, William Edward and mother Frances Smith. After her
parents refused her request to study nursing at a hospital, Nightingale
was persuaded to study parliamentary reports. In three years she was an
expert on public health hospitals.
Over her parent's objections she visited hospitals in England and
continental Europe. In 1846, a friend send her the Year Book of the
Institution of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, Germany. Four
years later, Nightingale entered the same institution and was trained as
a nurse. In 1853, she was appointed superintendent of the Institution
for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in London.
'The Lady with the Lamp'
On March 24, 1854, with the support of Britain and France, Turkey
declared war on Russia who invaded the Crimea. During the war, a series
of newspaper articles appeared including the London Times, which told
about the dreadful conditions in the Crimea, especially the lack of care
for the wounded and sick. There were not enough surgeons and nurses.
There was not enough linen to make bandages, and in some cases the
wounded had no care for a week. Nightingale was shocked when she read
the article that appeared in the London Times.
Florence Nightingale at once set about getting official permission to
take a band of nurses to the Crimea. Her plan was sent to Sidney Herbert
who had become secretary of war. By strange coincidence, he wrote to her
at the same time, asking for help; and their letters crossed in the
mail. She was appointed head of the nurse in the military hospitals in
Scutaria, Turkey. In November 1854, she arrived in Constantinople (Now
Istanbul) in Turkey, with 38 other volunteers. When she arrived more men
were dying from fever and infection than from the battle wounds. She
found the hospitals crowded, filthy and badly managed. One of
Nightingale's first request was for scrubbing brushes.
Against the opposition of the military commanders, she introduced new
rules of cleanliness and hygiene, organized food supplies and ensured
that the wounded were properly cared for. Almost immediately the number
of soldiers who died in hospital was greatly reduced, and she worked 20
hours everyday without a break. At night she used to carry a lantern
while visiting the patients at hospitals. She became known to them as
'the Lady with the Lamp.'
News of her success reached England, and on her return she raised
money to found a proper nurse's school. In 1860, she established the
Nightingale School for Nurses at St Thomas' Hospital, London and
Community Health Nursing Service in Liverpool. Her 'Notes on Nursing'
was published in the same year. In 1907 Florence Nightingale became the
first woman to be appointed to the Order of Merit.
'First role of nursing is to keep the air within as pure as without'
was the motto behind her noble profession. She continued to write vast
quantities of letters and notes until she was almost 80 years. At last,
Florence Nightingale herself had to have a nurse. On August 13, 1910
this grand old lady fell asleep and did not wake up again.
The International Nurses Council established in 1899 has taken action
to name May 12th as International Nursing Day as a mark of honour to
Florence Nightingale whose birthday falls on May 12th. She contributed a
great service to the nursing profession and hence this day is
commemorated annually as International Nursing Day.
The writer is a Nursing officer, attached to Base Hospital,