Arguably the most famous nurse in history was English nurse Florence Nightingale. Born on May 12th 1820 to wealthy socialite parents, young Florence Nightingale was named after her birthplace, Florence Italy. From a young age Florence had ambitions to become a nurse which was a highly un-popular choice at the time. Many people were skeptical of nurses at that time because many women acting as nurses had various religious motivations and little or no training.

Florence Nightingale

In late 1854 Florence organized a group of 38 nurses and headed to Constantinople to provide assistance to injured soldiers during the Crimean War which took place from 1853-1856. Florence arrived to discover that the hospital being used to house injured British soldiers was suffering from un-sanitary conditions and un-safe health practices. By raising money through private funding sources such as The London Times, Nightingale was able to make improvements to the hospital facility over the course of a year. Florence was credited with reducing the death toll of patients in the hospital by approximately two thirds.

Along with Nightingales success came outrage from various officials who were blamed for the poor hospital conditions that Nightingale discovered and quickly remedied. Nightingale went on to become somewhat of an activist and leader in the nursing industry writing several books setting the standards of how hospitals should be operated. Nightingales primary expertise was in the area of sanitation and cleanliness and wrote several publications on the subject that became precedents in many European countries. Many would argue that her most notable achievement was being awarded the Order of Merit in 1907. Nightingale was the first woman to be recognized with the Order of Merit in history.

Florence Nightingale was a female leader within a male dominated society who made significant steps in improving conditions in health care facilities, educating public officials through her published works and expanding the role of the nurse. Florence also succeeded in founding her own training school for nurses at St Thomas Hospital in London England. After spending several decades living a very private life and staying in her home most of the time, Ms. Nightingale passed away at the age of 90 on August 13th 1910 in London, England.