Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910) was a pioneer in the field of nursing and continues to be an inspiration to generations of healthcare professionals. Born into a wealthy, upper-class British family, she announced her plans to become a nurse despite her family’s deep opposition. She is best known for her contributions during the Crimean War when she and 38 women volunteer nurses — all of whom she trained personally — were sent to the main British camp in Turkey. While there, she was nicknamed “The Lady with the Lamp” because of her habit of making rounds at night to tend to injured soldiers.
Her influence continued to grow during the war with the founding, in 1855, of the Nightingale Fund for the training of nurses. Within five years, she established the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and in the 1870s she mentored Linda Richards, America’s first trained nurse, who went on to establish high-quality nursing schools in the United States.
Florence Nightingale was a prolific writer and published books on nursing, hospital administration and the importance of sanitary techniques in medical facilities. In 1883 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria, and in 1907 she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. Though bedridden in her later years, she continued to do pioneering work in hospital planning. She died peacefully in her sleep on August 13, 1910, at the age of 90.
“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”