Florence Nightingale; May 12, 1820 - August 13, 1910
Florence Nightingale is famous as a founder of the nursing profession and an initiator of the reform of hospitals. She understood her mission in deliverance of people from death and diseases, which could be prevented. To this goal she devoted the most of her long life (1820-1910).
Just one and a half century ago women without any training and from the lowest part of society were taken to do this job, the women, which were not taken anywhere else. It was Florence Nightingale, who undertook to change the situation practically alone. She apprehended her desire to serve to sick people as a call from God. “Today God called me to His service”, - she wrote in her diary at the age of 16. When she was 26, she went to Germany, in spite of the protest of her aristocratic family, to the Deaconesses community and returned from there with a firm intention to become a nurse.
At 33 Florence was already a superintendent of the hospital for invalid women in London. She put all her forces to teach nurses the basic rules of care and with the right organization of hospitals to facilitate the situation of sick people and to quicken their recovery.
She devoted seven years of her life to development of her own method of care for patients with minimum cost and maximum effect. The method was simple like a miracle: observance of the strictest cleanness in the wards, regular airing of the premises, nutrition regime, full quarantine for contagious people and attentive attitude to all complaints of patients.
Her merit was fighting for the reform of the medical care system in the British Army and transformation of medical nurses’ service into a serious, respectable profession on the basis of development of special training programs and presentation of high professional standards to the work of nurses.
During the Crimean War Florence reorganized the English hospital and care system in there in such a way, that from the place of death, with the every second dead one, it became the place of recovery (the death rate fell down to 2%).
During the Crimean campaign Florence, together with 38 assistants of nuns and nurses, went to the filed hospitals, first in Scutari (Turkey), and then to the Crimea. She consistently carried out into practice the principles of sanitation and care for wounded.
The Crimean War made Florence a national heroine. Soldiers, returned from the front, told the legends about this woman, calling her “the Lady with the lamp”, because at nights she always herself, like a ministering angel, made the rounds of the wards with the patients, carrying a lamp in her hands.
Upon her return to England in 1856, Nightingale was in charge of reorganization of military medical service. Within several years she achieved that hospitals were equipped with ventilation systems and sewage; hospital staff had without fail to get in necessary training; a rigorous statistic processing of all information was carried out in the hospitals.
In 1860 at the large amount of money, gathered during the war, she founded the first in the world training school for nurses at St. Thomas Hospital in London.
The selection to the school of nurses was the most strict one. The nurses were provided with full livelihood, lodging and pocket money, but a rigorous protocol of behavior was drawn up for each of them. If a nurse was noticed with improper care for patients, cruel treatment or other similar or reprehensible things, she was expelled from the school and from the hospital immediately.
In 1858 there was published Florence Nightingale’s book “Notes on Matters Affecting the Health of the British Army”.
Her second book “Notes on Nursing: What it is, and What it is not” was published in 1860 and became a reference book for many physicians. Exactly in this book Florence easily and resolutely expressed the main principle of her work: “Disease is a serious matter, and flippant attitude towards it is unforgivable. One needs to love to take care of sick people, otherwise it is better to choose another career”.
In 1883 Nightingale was awarded the Royal Red Cross and in 1907 she became the first woman in Britain, who received the Order of Merit from the hands of the British King George the Fifth.
Florence Nightingale died on August 13, 1910, in London.
In 1912 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies instituted the Florence Nightingale Medal “For true compassion and concern for people, causing admiration of all mankind”. This award is most honourable for nurses wherever in the world.
On May 12, Florence’s birthday, the whole world celebrates the International Nurses Day.
The Medal is made of gilded silver, on its facing side it has an inscription in Latin, “In memory of Florence Nightingale. 1820-1910”. In the center one can see the woman’s image with a lamp as a symbol of goodness, light, compassion and hope. On the other side of the Medal there is an inscription in Latin: “For a true compassion and concern for people, causing admiration of all mankind”.