Florence Nightingale, (12 May 1820 13 August 1910) was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modernnursing.
Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during theCrimean War, where she organised the tending to wounded soldiers.She gave nursing a highly favourable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.
While recent commentators have asserted Nightingale’s achievements in the Crimean War were exaggerated by the media at the time, critics agree on the decisive importance of her follow-up achievements in professionalising nursing roles for women.In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of hernursing schoolatSt Thomas’ Hospitalin London. It was thefirst secular nursing school in the world, now part ofKing’s College London. In recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, theNightingale Pledgetaken by new nurses, and theFlorence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, were named in her honour, and the annualInternational Nurses Dayis 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 toabolish prostitution lawsthat were over-harsh to women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in theworkforce.
Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. In her lifetime, much of her published work was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Some of her tracts were written insimple Englishso that they could easily be understood by those with poor literary skills. She was also a pioneer in the use ofinfographics, effectively using graphical presentations ofstatisticaldata.Much of her writing, including her extensive work on religion andmysticism, has only been published posthumously.