Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Lady Of The Lamp

a photoBorn in Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820, Florence Nightingale received her name from the city of her birth. Although born in Italy, she grew up in Derbyshire, Hampshire and London. Nightingale was the offspring of parents of upper-class power and influence, William Edwards and Frances Smith Nightingale. She was the younger of their 2 children. Her upbringing included frequent travels, a classical education and social prominence. Miss Nightingale became conversant in history, multiple language, economics, astronomy, science, philosophy and mathematical skills.

In 1850, Florence attended the Institute of Protestants Deaconesses at Kaiserworth, Germany, a training school for nurses. At the time, nursing was an infamous profession as nursing care was only given by women of low mural standard. Hence, it was against the societal code for affluent young English women to be involved in such a profession. Miss Nightingale’s parents initially opposed to her career choice but finally approved and gave her their blessings after Mr. Nightingale became ill and received attentive care from his daughter. Later, her father granted an allowance, which allowed her to continue her training and work in London.

In 1984, Ms. Nightingale was called into the government service during the Crimean War. She assembled 38 women and left for Turkey to care for the injured and diseased British soldiers. For 21 months, they managed to maintain the hygienic standards in the care of the wounded and ensure that the water supply was adequate. Under the supervision of Miss Nightingale and her nurses, the military hospital was completely transformed. They successfully set up diet kitchens, recreational centers, reading rooms and a laundry for the soldiers. As a result of these efforts, the mortality rate plummeted to 2% down from 60% prior to their arrival.

Miss Nightingale without fail made her wounds long after everyone else was fast asleep to check on the condition of the wounded soldiers. Thus, the press referred her as “The Lady of the Lamp”. Miss Nightingale not only cared for the physical needs of her patients, but she also began to look out for their social welfare. She saw to it that, for the first time, the sick and wounded soldier received sick pay.

Later during the war, she went to the battle sites herself. There she contracted the Crimean Fever. It is believed that the fever had affected her life and kept Miss Nightingale confined to her quarters after the war. There is a possibility that she suffered from Post Traumatic Syndrome or Fatigue Syndrome or some other possible malady. We will probably never know for sure.

Nevertheless, she was able to continue her work in nursing education and public health from the quarters. Her admirers, many of whom had been soldiers during the Crimean war, started the Nightingale Fund. It was the money that allowed her start the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas Hospital in 1860. The school became the model for other training schools.

Florence Nightingale is now synonymous with the nursing profession. She is recognized universally as the one who established the principles of nursing education and practice and she was responsible for setting up the first nursing school. Florence Nightingale had also changed the status of nursing to a respectable occupation for women and she became known as the founder of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale died on 13 august 1910 at the age of 90. Her birth date is now commemorated as the “World Nurses’ Day”.


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