Florence Nightingale

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Florence Nightingale

Nursing Education

The Birth of Nursing Leadership: Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, May 12, 1820, and in honor of the city where she was born; her parents gave it the name of Florence, which in English means nightingale. Her childhood was relatively happy despite not enjoyed nutritional health. She was very fond of reading, and her religious faith was formed from very young.

Nursing is the ultimate academic discipline and practice profession to have been shaped by women's leadership. Nursing was historically viewed as an extension of a woman's role in the home. Organized nursing had its roots in religious orders of women and men, such as the Knights Templar, dating back centuries before the era of Florence Nightingale, considered the mother of professional nursing. Professional nursing, with a planned educational program, began with the work of Nightingale, one of two daughters of an English family of wealth and influence. Born into this aristocratic English family while they were living in Florence, Italy, Nightingale was educated in languages, science, and mathematics, unlike most women of her social class during that era. Nightingale was a leader not only in nursing but her country. She set the stage for leadership for thousands of women across the world that would come forward to lead nursing into the next 2 centuries.

Inspired by what she identified as a religious calling and by what she observed in France and Germany, she returned home to develop a new model for nursing education in England. After returning to England from her studies at Kaiserwerth, Nightingale took her first position as a superintendent of nurses at King's College Hospital. She was recruited by the government to help the British military in the care of wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. The military had observed that French soldiers recovered from their wounds more often than British soldiers. They attributed this to care the French received from members of the Catholic nursing order, the Daughters of Charity. Nightingale, who was well known to members of the British parliament because of her family's status, was recruited to help the military improve the care in hospitals.

Despite vigorous opposition from military physicians, Nightingale and her group of 38 nurses arrived in the Crimea in late 1854. Twenty-four of the nurses were nuns; the rest had little or no experience or training as nurses. They found the hospital to be in ...
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