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Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. The daughter of upper-class British parents, Nightingale pursued a career in nursing, despite family objections, believing it to be God's will. In 1851 she received her initial training in Kaiserworth at a hospital run by an order of Protestant Deaconesses. Two years later she gained further experience as the superintendent at the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London, England.
After reading a series of correspondence from the London Times in 1854 on the plight of wounded soldiers fighting in the Crimea, Nightingale asked the British secretary of war to secure her entrance into the military hospitals at Scutari, Turkey. He not only granted her permission but designated her the head of an official delegation of nurses. Nightingale worked for the next two years to improve the sanitary conditions of army hospitals and to reorganize their administration. The Times immortalized her as the "Lady with the Lamp" because she ministered to the soldiers throughout the night.
Upon her return to England, Nightingale conducted an exhaustive study of the health of the British Army and created a plan for reform that she compiled into a five-hundred-page report entitled Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army (1858). In 1859 she published Notes on Hospitals, which was followed in 1860 by Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not. That same year she established a nursing school at St. Thomas's Hospital in London.
Nightingale wanted to make nursing a respectable profession and believed that nurses should be trained in science. She also advocated strict discipline, an attention to cleanliness, and felt that nurses should possess an innate empathy for their patients. Although Nightingale became an invalid following her stay in the Crimea, she remained an influential leader in public health policies related to hospital administration until her death on August 13, 1910.
Baly, M. E. (1986). Florence Nightingale and the Nursing Legacy. London: Croom Helm.
Bullough, V.; Bullough, B.; and Stanton, M. P., eds. (1990). Florence Nightingale and Her Era: A Collection of New Scholarship. New York: Garland.
Small, H. (1948). Florence Nightingale: Avenging Angel. London: Constable.
Author Info: JENNIFER KOSLOW, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health, 2002
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