Florence Nightingale broke the boundaries set for real Victorian women – and brought modern science and statistics to nursing

For almost 200 years, Florence's name has been Nightingale Synonymous with gentle compassion and mercy.

in the course of the nineteenth century Nightingale became perhaps probably the most famous woman She was the second largest queen of her time after Queen Victoria because she introduced hygiene practices that significantly reduced the mortality rate amongst British soldiers fighting within the Crimean War. A beautiful bronze statue in London's Waterloo Place, Nightingale was immortalized as a slim, graceful figure with a lamp, the embodiment of selfless femininity.

But this iconic image dwarfs many other achievements. Nightingale too modified care right into a respected career, founded the primary nursing school on this planetused the relatively latest science of statistics to enhance health care outcomes and redesigned hospitals. She was also considered one of the primary in Western history Advocate for health look after all.

In the five years I spent researching and writing my biographical novel about Nightingale, “Flight of the wild swan“, published March 12, 2024, my vaguely sentimental ideas about her were replaced with respect for her visionary achievements. I made a decision to shine a greater highlight on this woman who, along with her legendary work as a war nurse, spent half a century pushing advances in healthcare.

The nineteenth century brought quite a lot of revolutionary medical advances. Nightingale's contributions were a big a part of this era.

Memorial statue of Florence Nightingale against a blue sky.
A statue of Nightingale erected in London's Waterloo Place honors her life and contribution to healthcare.
Tony Baggett/iStock via Getty Images

Called to serve those who are suffering

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820, to William and Frances Nightingale, a wealthy British couple. The Nightingales raised their two daughters, Florence and sister Parthenope, on two estates in England. William taught the women at home, giving them the equivalent of his own education at Cambridge University.

Nightingale from a young age showed a formidable intellect, with a selected interest in mathematics. At 16, she experienced a transcendent call to serve those that are suffering, a calling that ultimately translated into her decision to develop into a nurse. However, her family objected, saying nursing was an unsuitable career for young, privileged Victorian women. It was considered disreputable work and had a fair lower status than servants.

But Nightingale step by step overcame her family's objections, training in Germany and France. In 1853 she became superintendent of 1 small hospital in London for “desperate gentlemen”..” Most of her patients were educated, single governesses whose health had deteriorated under the strain of long hours and low pay.

A bit of over a 12 months later, she was on the solution to the Crimean War.

Portrait of Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale set standards for contemporary nursing.
National Library of Medicine

Bringing hygiene into medicine

In October 1854, Nightingale brought 38 nurses under her supervision Scutari Barracks in Constantinople – today's Istanbul. Originally a big stone barracks for the Turkish army, Scutari was now a British hospital housing hundreds of wounded English and Irish soldiers.

In Scutari, she and her nurses found little provisions, hardly any medicine or edible food, and overcrowded hospital wards filled with rats, lice and raw sewage. More soldiers died from cholera and other infectious diseases than from battle wounds. Nightingale and her nurses set about cleansing and obtaining food, soap, bandages, medicine, clean linens and clothing for the patients. As living standards improved, Scutari's The frightening mortality rate began to say no.

It was there that Nightingale's fame because the “Angel of Crimea” and “Lady with the lamp” began. War journalists telegraphed dramatic accounts of their work to their newspapers. These stories captured the general public's imagination and created the indelible image of a slender, female figure carrying her lamp through hospital wards at night.

In January 1855, British Prime Minister Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, sent a newly formed Sanitary Commission to the Crimea to analyze high mortality rates within the hospital. Nightingale observed firsthand the dramatic decline in mortality rates because the commission cleaned the hospital's polluted sewage systems, whitewashed its partitions—killing surface bacteria—and made quite a few other sanitary improvements.

Nightingale was already a proponent of Hygiene, fresh air and proper nutrition in medical care; She had this experience a dedicated paramedic.

When the war led to 1856, Nightingale returned home permanently bedridden with chronic brucellosis, then called “Crimean fever.” However, that didn't stop her from spending the remaining of her life doing her own work to enhance health care Systems within the UK and other countries.

To have a good time her two hundredth birthday in 2020, the Florence Nightingale Museum in London produced this film about her life, including her efforts to develop into a nurse despite her family's disapproval.

Heal with numbers

Statistics was a comparatively latest science in Nightingale's time, but consistent along with her early interest in mathematics. Ultimately Nightingale would come to consider that statistics used to cut back mortality rates were “the true measure of God’s purpose.”

Collaboration with William FarrNightingale, a number one figure in the appliance of statistics to epidemiology, analyzed extensive data on army mortality rates throughout the Crimean War and proved that almost all deaths resulted from preventable diseases fairly than battlefield injuries. She was particularly revolutionary in her use of graphical charts equivalent to her famous “Rose” or “Coxcomb” chart, and rightly believed that attractive visual representations were simpler than the dry tables of numbers favored by statisticians of the time.

Nightingale used statistical data to create her famous “Rose Diagram” – considered one of the primary pie charts ever – showing that the overwhelming majority of British soldier deaths throughout the Crimean War were as a result of preventable illnesses fairly than battle wounds.
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

As a result, Nightingale was admitted to the Royal Statistical Society in 1858 in recognition of her use of the statistical method in army health reform the organization's first female fellow. In 2020 the Royal Statistical Society established an annual edition Florence Nightingale Award for outstanding achievements in health and care analytics.

In a revolutionary move, Nightingale prolonged her statistical methods and data visualization to other areas, starting from hospital administration and health management to public sanitation reform and the causes of preventable diseases. These analyzes further uncovered the causes of each military and civilian mortality.

Training future nurses

In 1860, Nightingale founded nursing to make it each a science and an art First nursing school on this planet: the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St. Thomas' Hospital, London.

The students – 20 to 30 each – lived at the varsity and wore nurses' uniforms to finish rigorous courses in anatomy, surgical nursing, physiology, chemistry, hygiene and ethics. In the Eighties, Nightingale had done this accepted the newer “germ theory” the spread of disease and this became a part of the curriculum.

At the tip of the year-long program, Nightingale sent her nurses out into the world as certified and paid health care professionals.

By the turn of the century the varsity had graduated nearly 2,000 certified nurses. Known because the Nightingales, they spread across the UK to practice expert patient care, develop systems of care, teach, train and function mentors.

The Nightingale Training School became a pioneering model for nursing education across the UK. Similar schools could be established in Africa, America, Australia, Canada and other countries.

Nightingale too wrote a bestseller1859s”Care instructions“, which helped Victorian wives keep their relations healthy.

Advocating for public health

Nightingale's long, ultimately successful effort to bring trained nurses and midwives to England and Ireland notorious workhouses remained largely unnoticed.

During the Victorian period, sick poor people in workhouses could only be cared for by hand other destitute workhouse residents. Nightingale wrote quite a few articles emphasizing the necessity for public health nurses to look after the sick in these institutions and called for them within the 1860s Abolition of England's strict poor laws.

As a results of these efforts, workhouse nursing reforms step by step spread throughout England.

I consider that a fuller understanding of Nightingale's life and achievements, beyond the role of “Lady with the Lamp,” can provide an inspiring role model for those pursuing careers in nursing, medical science, and public health today ponder.

image credit : theconversation.com