Florence Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing. She was born in 1820 to a wealthy Italian family, and at the age of 24 felt called by God to help the poor and sick. While most people know that Nightingale was influential in the field of nursing, they might not know how much she truly impacted it.
Nightingale essentially established the profession. Before she came along, nurses considered their jobs to be unimportant and of low-status, as they were untrained and were not taught about nursing, but learned through experience. Nightingale’s efforts turned nursing into a respectable profession raising the standards by incorporating education and responsibilities into the job. Nurses were no longer looked down upon, but became respected and appreciated.
She also improved hospitals. Nightingale helped improve hospitals and still influences their modern design. As a nurse in the Crimean War, she took notice of the dirtiness and deterioration of the military hospitals. By making sanitary improvements and establishing standards for clean and safe hospitals, she helped bring down the death rate for soldiers being treated in them. In her book Notes on Hospitals she explained how they could be improved by increasing ventilation, adding windows, improving drainage, and increasing space.
Nightingale established nursing education by writing the first textbook on the subject in 1960, entitled Notes of Nursing. This book outlined the principles of the nursing profession, provided advice on how regular women could care for their families, and how illness could be properly managed. In her writing, Nightingale emphasized the importance of patient observation to figure out their symptoms and needs, as to be able to provide the right care. The importance of sanitary conditions was also stressed, as well as warmth, clean air, light in rooms, and a nutritious diet.
Florence Nightingale opened the first nursing school in 1860, which was the beginning of professional education and training in the field. Her school, the Nightingale School for Nurses, was a part of St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, and offered the first official training program for nurses so that they could work in hospitals, help the poor, and teach others. The training emphasized the important of patient home care and taught students how to care for the sick at home and the practice of midwifery. Many of the students at the school continued on to be matrons at major hospitals in England, as well as went on to establish their own training programs throughout the world.