Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspirational women - Florence Nightingale 1820-1910

Florence Nightingale, Nurse, writer and gifted statistician. Florence was born into a wealthy upper class British family in which she was expected to “marry well” & become a “homemaker” & “mother.” In defiance of her parents wishes Florence chose to become a nurse & devote her life to furthering the profession. Florence’s family were devastated, especially her mother, for in those days nursing had a poor reputation, being performed mostly by poorer women, whose duties resembled that of a cook rather than nurse. Florence chose to remain unmarried so she could dedicate herself fully to her work, despite having her share of suitors, including politician and poet Richard Monckton Milnes, the 1st Baron of Houghton. Florence carved out a name for herself in the Crimean war, she made extensive use of statistics and was a pioneer in the area of public health & sanitation. Florence not only had a profound effect upon the education of nurses in Britain but also mentored Linda Richards - America's first trained nurse.

Amongst her many accomplishments, Florence was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria in 1883, and in 1907 she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. International Nurses Day is celebrated annually on her birthday, May 12th.

Lo! In that hour of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering gloom,
And flit from room to room.

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