May 13, 2016 10:00 AM

florence nightingale

It is hard to imagine a world without the care of nurses. Thanks to one dedicated woman in particular, we don’t have to. Florence Nightingale is broadly acknowledged and revered as the pioneer of modern nursing. Although most people know her as the “Lady with the Lamp,” she is much more than that.

At a young age, Florence displayed an interest in mathematics and science. She had an innate passion for recording and organizing information, which she demonstrated by meticulously documenting her shell collection. As she grew up, her curiosity expanded, and she read everything health- or hospital-related within her reach.

Against the wishes of her parents, Nightingale pursued her nursing education at a hospital and school in Dusseldorf. Soon after, she become superintendent of a hospital in Harley Street, London. By 1854, she became as a health care leader when she was appointed to take 38 nurses to a military hospital in Scutari, Turkey, during the Crimean War. This marked the first time women were permitted to serve in the army. Quickly getting to work, she and the other nurses focused on getting troops fed, cleaned, and clothed.

Her experience in Turkey helped Florence conceptualize her stand on the responsibility of hospital communities to provide patients with warmth, clean air, lit rooms, and nutritious diets. Global health standards of today reflect these needs. Thanks to her, the experience for all patients has improved greatly.

Along with fulfilling her own desire to become a nurse, Florence made it possible for countless others to do the same. In 1860, she established the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital, the first professional training school for nurses. Florence believed women of any economic class should have the opportunity to share in her love for helping others.

Florence Nightingale saw nursing as an art form that goes beyond the knowledge accrued from books. She knew the importance of a nurse’s role in helping patients through every aspect of care—emotional, mental, or physical. And like most artists, Florence worked primarily with her heart. This can be said also of our nurses at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Thank you for all you do.

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