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HealthWorld Nurses Day - The story of Florence Nightingale, the world's first...

World Nurses Day – The story of Florence Nightingale, the world’s first nurse

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World Nurses Day has been officially celebrated on May 12, 1974, at the initiative of the International Council of Nurses. The day is associated with the name of Florence Nightingale – the world’s first nurse.

She established a system for the training of middle and junior nurses in Britain in 1855 and trained nurses during the Crimean War.

Nightingale is considered to be the founder of the modern profession of nurse, she even wrote an oath (similar to the Hippocratic one), with which nurses solemnly promise to care for patients without commercial purposes.

Florence was born into a wealthy English family. Proof of the great potential of her parents is the fact that for their honeymoon they can afford a long trip around Europe. Their two daughters were created during this journey. In fact, Florence (who is the younger of two sisters) was born on May 12, 1820 and was named after the Italian city where she was born, namely Florence, which is no coincidence that on May 12 we celebrate the International Day of the Nurse).

When the family finally returned to England after the long journey, Mrs. Nightingale made a full commitment to her daughters’ education. In a homely atmosphere, under her mother’s watchful eye, Florence began studying Greek and Latin, mathematics, science, ancient and modern literature, and classical German, French, and Italian. At first glance, it seems that the girl will follow the traditional path assigned to a woman of the upper class of the Victorian era, which in practice means that she will marry a man of noble birth and many quiet evenings spent with children by the family hearth.

Florence Nightingale chose the profession of nurse

Much to the chagrin of his parents, however, Nightingale chose to take a different path and follow his own dreams. Although always surrounded by countless wealthy suitors, the British woman flatly rejects any idea of ​​marriage and tells her mother and father that she has chosen a radically different vocation, namely – to serve society and humanity in general, by devoting herself. of care for the sick and weak.

Initially, her parents were shocked and frankly frightened by her intention to take care of nursing, as this activity is extremely unsuitable for a lady of her rank. After all, after many “family wars”, in 1849 they still decided to release her for a two-week period at the Kaiserswerther Diakonie Institute in Germany. During this, albeit short, stay, the young woman acquires valuable medical knowledge and is even more inspired to pursue her goals to the end. In 1851 he managed to return to Kaiserwert, this time for a longer period – for three months. And when she sets foot on English soil again, she is already convinced which way to go.

In 1853, Florence was appointed manager of Upper Harley Street Hospital in London, a small hospital for elderly women with noble health problems and financial difficulties. where he is fortunate enough to learn in detail about medical practice at a Paris Catholic charity. She later volunteered and worked as a nurse at Middlesex (a county in England that existed until 1965) during the cholera epidemic.

The Crimean War broke out in 1854, and Florence was horrified to learn that in the course of hostilities, the death toll in the ranks of British troops was as high as 41%. More shocking to her, however, is the fact that most British soldiers die more often from disease and infection than from their wounds on the battlefield. The lack of nursing care in the British army is obvious – by comparison, French soldiers in hospitals are cared for by a large number of nurses and there is much lower mortality.

Using her political influence, Nightingale received permission, along with a group of several women, like her, high-class members, to travel to the Crimea and take care of the sick. Believing that mud, or rather the pathogenic microorganisms contained in it, are the cause of many of the diseases that take the lives of soldiers, the British woman organized a large-scale campaign to clean and ventilate hospitals and barracks. In just a few months, the number of deaths has dropped dramatically. Nightingale, who, thanks to her father, has studied the basic principles of statistics, carefully documents all the results achieved and uses them for further innovations in the practice of nursing. In other words, with all her achievements she lays the foundations of the modern notion of nursing care.

The “Lady with the Lamp” is considered the first professional nurse

When she returned to England, Florence was deservedly greeted as a heroine by the British people. In 1860, Nightingale established the first school of its kind for nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Students in it receive both theoretical knowledge and preparation for work on clinical research. Curiously, the school was opened entirely with the British woman’s personal funds. Subsequently, many of those who graduated from it began to establish similar educational institutions in other hospitals.

Florence Nightingale died at the age of 90 and bequeathed a wealth of knowledge and skills to future generations of nurses. The “lady with the lamp”, as she is often called, because of her habit of wandering around the beds of the sick at night, is undoubtedly a person about whom much can be said. It is no coincidence that there are several museums around the world that store objects and written documents related to her life.

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