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Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy (Florence Nightingale, 2007). Inspired by what she took as a “Christian divine calling”, Florence proclaimed her decision to enter nursing in 1845, thus rebelling against the role projected for woman during that time (Florence Nightingale, 2009). Florence Nightingale’s most prominent contribution occurred in 1854 during the Crimean War where she worked for a military hospital. She dramatically improved sanitary conditions and in turn reduced the mortality rate among the wounded soldiers (Florence Nightingale, 2009). In 1859 Florence published two books - Notes on Hospital and Notes on Nursing - and then went on to open the Nightingale Training School for nurses a year later. “In 1907 Nightingale was the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit”, which acknowledges individuals for notable services in the armed forces, science, art, literature and culture (Florence Nightingale Biography, 2007).

Most remember her as a "pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospitals...less well known is her equally pioneering use of advanced techniques of statistical analysis..." (Cohen, 1984). It was with this analysis, that Nightingale measured the number of preventable deaths among British soldiers due to unsanitary conditions. In 1855, a year after the Crimean War began; the death rate at the hospital in Scutari was 42.7 percent. Less than six months later the mortality rate dropped to 2.2 percent due to Florence Nightingale's sanitary practices (Cohen, 1984). Armed with detailed analysis, she presented her findings to the Royal Commission and four subcommisions were developed. The first commission oversaw the conditions of army barracks and ensured adequate ventilation, heating, water supply and sewage disposal. The other commissions established a sanitary code for the army which ensured the gathering of medical statistics and established a military medical school (Cohen, 1984).

Florence Nightingale is often viewed as the founder of modern nursing practice. Many values of nursing that Nightingale instilled are very much in practice today. Nightingale was the first to view the patient in a holistic manner (Ferguson, 2004). In addition, Nightingale viewed nurses as “educators, political and social advocates, health promoters, facilitators, leaders, administrators, researchers, statisticians, and mangers” (Ferguson, 2004, p 16), roles which many nurses fulfill today. Nightingale recognized the importance of confidentiality and ethical behavior, as well as the importance of teamwork (Ferguson, 2004). Perhaps one of her most significant influences on nursing skills today was her focus on creating sanitary conditions for patients (MacQueen, 2007).

Florence Nightingale passed away on August 13, 1910 but despite her death, her legacy and memory continues to live on (Florence Nightingale, 2007). The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery was established by Florence in 1860, and continues its work today (Kings College London, 2009). Following her death, the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health was developed to raise awareness about important issues noted by Nightingale (Florence Nightingale, 2007). In addition to the development of various organizations and educational facilities, Nightingale’s memory continues to remain through the establishment of the Nightingale Museum in London (Florence Nightingale, 2007). As one can see, Florence Nightingale has “set an example for nurses everywhere of compassion, commitment to patient care, and diligent and thoughtful hospital administration” (Florence Nightingale, 2007). It is for this reason, her contribution to the nursing profession will remain an enduring memory for many years to come (Strachey, 2000).

External Resources:

**Florence Nightingale Foundation**
**Florence Nightingale International Foundation**


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Ferguson, M. (2004). Florence Nightingale – Ahead of Her Time.
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Kings College London. (2009). Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. Retrieved from http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/nursing/about/

MacQueen, J. (2007). Florence Nightingale's Nursing Practice. Nursing History Review, 15, 29. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com.uproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/pqdweb?did=1394543561&sid=3&Fmt=3&clientId=72790&RQT=309&VName=PQD

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The Florence Nightingale Story. (2001). NURSOC. [Online Image].
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