Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale-Saving life with Statistics



Florence Nightingale, byname “ The Lady with the Lamp”- was born in 1820 to a wealthy English parents traveling in Florence, Italy. Florence was educated at home by her father.  She aspired to serve others, in particular she wanted to become a nurse. Her parents were opposed – at that time, nursing was not seen as an attractive or ‘respectable’ profession. Despite her parents disapproval, Florence went ahead and trained to be a nurse. On one occasion, sitting in her parent’s garden, she felt a call from God to serve others. She resolved to try and follow God’s will in being of service to others. which sparked her advocacy of social and health care causes and eventually led her to establish nursing as a distinct profession.

Florence Nightingale was so much more than a lady with a lamp. The legend of the saintly nurse has long obscured the truth – that her mathematical genius was what really saved so many lives. Her ambition led her into the hellish world of Crimean warfare and, as a result, on a journey that would transform nursing and hospitals in Britain.  She is the Foundational philosopher of modern nursing. She was a statistician, and  also a social reformer. Her efforts to formalize nursing education led her to establish the first scientifically based nursing school—the Nightingale School of Nursing, at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (opened 1860).

In 1853, the Crimea war broke out. This was a bloody conflict leading to many casualties on both sides. Reports of the British casualties were reported in the press; in particular it was noted that the wounded lacked even the most basic of first aid treatment.  Many soldiers were dying unnecessarily. This was a shock to the British public, as it was one of the first wars to be reported vividly in the press back home. Later in 1855, Florence Nightingale was asked (with the help of her old friend Sydney Herbert) to travel to the Crimea and organize a group of nurses. Nightingale was put in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War. She spent many hours in the wards, and her night rounds giving personal care to the wounded established her image as the “Lady with the Lamp.”

After the war, she didn’t really appreciate the fame, but continued to work for the improvement of hospital conditions, writing to influential people encouraging them to improve hygiene standards in hospitals. She also founded a training school for nurses at St Thomas’s hospital, London. It was after her return from the Crimea that some of her most influential work occurred. She was a pioneer in using statistical methods to quantify the effect of different practises. Ironically, she found that some of her own methods of treating soldiers decreased recovery rates. But, this scientific approach to dealing with hospital treatment helped to improve standards and the quality of care.

She received was the Order of Merit in 1907 and in 1908 she was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. She had already received the German order of the Cross of Merit and the French gold medal of Secours aux Blessés  Militaires. On 10 May 1910 she was presented with the badge of honour of the Norwegian Red Cross Society. Nightingale died in South Street, Park Lane, London, on 13 August 1910 at the age of ninety and was buried on 20 August in the family plot at East Wellow, Hampshire.