When we visit hospitals and see them sparkling and cheerful, we know all this is a result of the efforts put in by the courageous and intelligent lady. -Florence Nightingale .The nursing profession today owes a lot to the invaluable contribution of Florence Nightingale .She was a pioneer in the nursing field .Before she started her work nurses were largely untrained. They considered their job a lowly chore .They were not caring and gentle like the nurses of today but were careless and dirty .
People looked down upon nurses and women from good families did not enter this profession.Hospitals were so dirty that people were scared to go there .The bed linen and mattresses were hardly changed from one patient to the next. The floors were not cleaned and scrubbed while the walls stank with dampness .Patients with infectious diseases were not kept in a separate ward.
Doctors too practiced no hygiene before surgery. Florence Nightingale with her efforts raised the standards of not just the nursing but the medical profession as well.
Florence Nightingale was born at Florence ,in Italy ,on May 12,1820 .It was her parents ` fancy to call their children after the name of their birthplace, so that, although Florence was until then always understood to be a man`s name ,it was given to this future reformer in whose honor so many women have since borne it. Nightingale was raised mostly in Derbyshire, England and received a thorough classical education from her father.
Florence was very good looking ,graceful, witty, and full of life. In those days ,young ladies were bred to be gentle and demure .They spent their reading books ,listening to music or doing embroidery work. But Florence saw the uselessness of leading life in such a manner. Born in a aristocratic family ,Florence Nightingale felt her talents would be wasted if she just played the role of a typical Victorian lady, that of wife and mother.
Florence parents were wealthy well connected and associated with leaders in society and politics .It was imagined what repugnance they regard that the strange desire on the part of their younger daughter to take up as career that would bring her into contact with the fearful conditions then prevalent in hospital life. Every method was used to distract her from those interest. But Florence wanted to help the needy and her mind too was absorbed with that idea .But in those times it was certainly not considered proper to do so. She set her sights on nursing as an outlet for her talents ,at the age of twenty -four .She wanted to work with the sick in hospitals .She was the first woman to break out the Victorian traditional mould. Her family was horrified and rejected the idea to totally because respectable women did not become nurses.
Whenever she went in her journey through Europe ,she always sought first the places where some kind of good work was being for the afflicted and needy .More than ever ,she was convinced that it was useless trying to be pioneer in a movement that did not exist in her own country. She must not merely point the way.She must make the way and lead.
The Crimean war gave her the chance to put her principles into practice, and by her heroism there Florence Nightingale lit a lamp which will blaze for all time.Modern nursing and hospital routine are the blessings which we owe to her actions and ideals. Change did not come completely but she did manage to rebuild some barracks and reduce the death rate by fifty percent.She prepared a one thousand page report ,Notes on matters affecting Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army.
Soon all over the world ,Florence became expert on the building of the hospitals .More windows and better ventilation resulted and the drainage system was improved .Laundry rooms and clean kitchens also became a part of her style of hospitals.
In the year 1853 when Florence was thirty -three years old she took up the job of superintendent at the Institute for the care of sick Gentlewomen in London. This news made her mother and sister weep and get angry but news made her but Florence was stubborn . With full enthusiasm Florence started to reorganize the hospital. Soiled and stinking bed lien were removed ,brooms and dusters were bought, she installed hardworking house keepers and in a short time she became a specialist in her field .She was loved by both patients and women because of her sympathetic nature.
In 1859 she published `Notes on Nursing ; what it is and what it is not ` .It was a revolutionary work where ,besides hygiene and basic health she wrote about the need for a sensitive approach to the suffering of the sick person .Today this is accepted as a slogan for all medical institutions .Her Nightingale Training School `was a success. There was a demand worldwide for Nightingale nurses. They were disciplined , given neat uniforms and had a room for themselves .Gradually nursing got transformed into a respectable profession.
Florence wanted efficient workers .She was taking revolutionary decisions so many even opposed her .But there was a kind in her and her sharp mind and keen sense of observation was admired by many. Initially the committee was aghast by her list of requirements but they were very impressed by her ideas of improvement of the hospital .She concentrated on her job and started planning how to recruit of farmers to join nursing.
In November 1907 ,King Edward VII awarded Florence Nightingale the Order of Merit.. Florence Nightingale changed and shaped the role of women of her time. She derived great joy from the letters she received from the globe .She made people change their attitudes towards soldiers .She sensitized people towards childbirth ,the poor and the sick and suffering .Hospital buildings underwent major reforms .She enabled wide-ranging workhouse reforms by pressing for an Act of Parliament.
Florence Nightingale was one of God` s most gifted beings. She was a perfectionist yet she had a very gentle voice and manner. Her clarity of mind and inner strength were extraordinary .Every time we see a hospital ,to our mind comes the picture of `The Lady with lamp ` who was the founder of it all -nursing ,preventive medicine, cleanliness and food -al proved with a long and through research!