The Influence of Florence Nightingale: 10 Facts About the Founder of Modern Nursing

by Katy McWhirter
• 2 min read
Florence Nightingale faced a difficult decision in 1844. Raised in an upwardly mobile British family living on the European continent, her parents held specific ideas on how she should live her life. These plans were decidedly void of any notion that she should ever work, let alone in ravaged battlefields tending to wounded soldiers. Despite their protests, Nightingale knew her time could be better spent serving others rather than hosting soirees. She rose above family disapproval and inflexible social codes to become the founder of modern nursing. Florence was born May 12,1820. In commemoration of her birthday month, we've highlighted just a few of her many accomplishments below.

10 Facts About Florence Nightingale

  • The Lady With the Lamp. Nightingale earned this title due to her habit of making rounds in the evenings to check on the wounded soldiers in her charge. She would wait until the hospital quieted for the evening before visiting each man to assess his condition.
  • Founder of the First Nursing School in the World. After returning from the frontlines of the Crimean War, Nightingale understood more than ever the need for a modern, secular training program devoted exclusively to nursing. She helped open the Nightingale School for Nurses in London in 1860. The program still operates at King's College London.
  • Red Cross Medal. The International Committee of the Red Cross created the Florence Nightingale Medal in 1912 to recognize nurses and nursing aides who provide outstanding service and care. This medal is still awarded every two years.
  • The Nightingale Pledge. While doctors say the Hippocratic Oath at their white coat ceremony, nurses say the Nightingale Pledge at their pinning ceremony. This pledge outlines the tenets of the nursing profession and highlights the ethical standards they strive to meet.
  • You Can Hear Her Voice. The British Library Sound Archive preserved an 1890 recording of Nightingale's voice, in which she can be heard saying, "When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice may perpetuate the great work of my life."
  • Creator of the Nightingale Rose Diagram. Nightingale was a talented and creative statistician who was always looking for ways to use data to inform medical care, much like modern day health informaticists. She created the Royal Commission and designed a well-known diagram style to help make information more accessible to the masses.
  • Statistician Accolades. Nightingale was the first female to join the Royal Statistical Society, an honor bestowed due to her groundbreaking work in the field. She also served as an honorary member of the American Statistical Association.
  • Healthcare Policy Reform Advocate. Though Nightingale was bedridden from the time of 38 onwards due to contracting Crimean Fever, she continued her work with fervor. She advocated tirelessly for healthcare reform and published pamphlets on the proper running of civilian hospitals.
  • Inspired the National Health Service. Florence Nightingale recognized early on the need for free, accessible healthcare that anyone could use. She sent nurses trained at her school to workhouses, ensuring that individuals of the lowest classes and income levels could receive healthcare. This model helped inspire England's National Health Service (NHS).
  • Women's Rights Advocate. When Nightingale reached the front lines of the Crimean War, she was one of only a few women allowed into these conditions. Recognizing the powerful contribution women could make, she advocated on their behalf in terms of educational and professional access.

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