Happy Nurses Day: Who Was Florence Nightingale?

May 11, 2022

By Raza Mehdi

One could say that every day is Nurses Day and given the covid pandemic, now more than ever. Historically, May 12, the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, is celebrated as International Nurses Day. But why?

Happy Nurses Day! 

Florence Nightingale was an English nurse, a social reformer, and a statistician who founded the key pillars of modern nursing. She was born in the city of Florence, Italy, on 12 May 1820.

Who was Florence Nightingale?

Florence Nightingale chose to pursue nursing at the young age of 16, despite her parents' objections. Florence's mind was made up and in 1851, she finally started learning the skills and in three years she was a professional nurse.

Rebel with a Cause

Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War in 1854. When she arrived at the Army hospital it was in a terrible state - overcrowded and filthy with blocked drains, broken toilets and rats running everywhere. Imagine the smell!

The Crimean War

Florence knew that the soldiers could only get well again if the hospital conditions improved. She bought better medical equipment and decent food and paid workmen to clear the drains.

Florence to the Rescue!

With her team, Florence cleaned the wards and provided the wounded soldiers with quality care – bathing them, dressing their wounds and feeding them. As a result, far fewer soldiers were dying from disease.

War on Filth

Florence truly cared for her suffering patients. At night, she’d visit the soldiers to make sure they were comfortable. Since Florence carried a lantern with her on her night visits, the soldiers would call her ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.

The Lady with a Lamp

When Florence returned to England in 1856, she’d made quite a name for herself. But Florence did not care for fame. She set about reforming medical systems. The Army hospitals became cleaner and soldiers were given better clothing, food and care. Go, Flo!

Florence After War

In 1860, Florence established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses as the first nursing school in the world. With the establishment of this school, she changed nursing into a respectable profession for women who wanted to work outside the home.

World's First Nursing School

Florence suffered from illness for much of her later life, largely because of all her hard work helping sick people. Sadly, Florence Nightingale died on 13 August, 1910, but she will forever be recognised as the founder of modern nursing.

Florence's Mark on the World