Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Florence Nightingale

My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.

N is for Florence Nightingale - social reformer and nurse extraordinaire! 

Why does this icon of female helpfulness inspire me? Not because she was the Lady with the Lamp, nursing the war wounded but because she would not give up! She was the supreme pest - who harried government officials into listening to her and changed the course of medical history because of it. 

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Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday. Her social reforms include improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish prostitution laws that were over-harsh to women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

She contacted Crimean Fever as she worked tirelessly during that war. It made her bedridden from the age of 38 until her death at 90 but she never stopped working on the reforms she believed in.

I was scared to be inspired by Nightingale when I was a child. Why? My aunts were all nurses or teachers and I had no desire to be either. But still - I am so drawn to how she, like many of my inspirations, quit the easier life of a female dependent to follow her own drum.

Any classic female heroines that you are drawn to?


Margot Kinberg said...

I've always admired Florence Nightingale, too, Jan. She was so forward-thinking and empowered. Yet at the same time, she was moved by compassion and the will to do good for others. What more could you want?

Bish Denham said...

She is, indeed, worth being inspired by. Another woman of her generation who was also at the Crimean War and is mostly forgotten, is Mary Seacole, a black Jamaican who cared for British officers and service men behind the lines. And, she did it alone without the aide of any men.

Debbie D. said...

Florence Nightingale was an inspiration to many. These early feminists did so much to improve women's lives! I did not know she was bedridden for most of her life; that's a pity.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Florence Nightingale was a woman much ahead of her times, truly an inspirational person. I too did not know that she spent such a large part of her life as an invalid, how terribly sad.

Here from the A-Z and enjoyed reading.

Best wishes,