The Florence Nightingale Legacy
Florence Nightingale recognised that only with
knowledge and skill could she help improve public health. Showing
great courage and determination, she followed her calling.
When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, she oversaw
the introduction of female nurses into the military hospitals in
Turkey. Initially greeted with hostility, she took quick action
to improve the deplorable conditions of the wounded, dramatically
reducing mortality rates among soldiers from 40% to 2%.
While Nightingale is best known for her work during
the war, some of her most valuable contributions came afterwards.
She returned to England as a national heroine. However, she deliberately
hid from public life and lived in seclusion where she worked non-stop.
Her first major works were two books published in 1859, Notes on
Hospital and Notes on Nursing, detailing her views on health care
reform gained from her experience during the war.
She founded the Nightingale School and Home for
Nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital , London in 1860, the first of
its kind. The objective of the school was to produce nurses who
could train others. The following year she established a training
school for midwives in King's College Hospital.
Despite poor health which left her an invalid,
Florence Nightingale worked tirelessly until her death at 90. As
a passionate statistician, she conducted extensive research and
analysis. She published over 200 reports and pamphlets on a wide
range of issues including hygiene, hospital administration and
design, midwifery and health care for the poor.
Florence Nightingale's influence on nursing continues.
She personified many of the important ideas that are crucial to
nursing today - values, vision and voice.
Her strong values influenced her work throughout
her life. She saw nursing as helping people to live and promoted
the importance of the nurse's integrity. She fought for health
care for people regardless of faith or economic background.
Her vision completely changed society's approach
to nursing. She understood the valuable contribution nurses could
make in health care. She was committed to personalised care and
saw that sensitivity to patient needs was key to recovery. She
believed that it was important to look after an individual's health,
mental and physical, as well as sickness, an idea well ahead of
Her voice was strong and she served as an effective
advocate on a number of important health issues, particularly for
trained nursing and preventive health care through proper hygiene.
She could be extremely persuasive and through her contacts in the
government, she influenced public policy and achieved positive
health care reforms.
Florence Nightingale still serves as a model for
nurses today. With vision, values and voice, nurses care for all
people, leading societies around the world toward better health.