Wise Words from the Founder of Modern Nursing

In Appreciation of Nurses Everywhere

Posted by Valerie Morrow
May 9, 2016

Editor’s Note: Grantham University honors the self-sacrifice and expertise of the modern nursing community. We’re proud to serve their educational needs with seven nursing-related educational programs in our College of Nursing and Allied Health. In recognition of their caring spirit and place in our lives, we look back to the one who started it all in this blog republication. 

Statue of Florence Nightengale, founder of Modern Nursing“Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.”
– Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)

As we celebrate National Nurses Week, let’s take a moment to examine the life of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Her work revolutionized the field of nursing from a menial job with few standards of care into a professional career, arguably serving as the inspiration for many of the techniques taught by Grantham’s College of Nursing and Allied Health.

She also embodied the notion that nurses should be compassionate caregivers, as exemplified by her tireless rounds of the wards during the Crimean War, service that earned her the nickname, “Lady with the Lamp.”

An Unlikely Rebel
Born into an affluent British family, with a social-climbing mother and a father who was a prominent landowner, Nightingale received a classical education and was expected to marry well to secure the family’s status. Instead, she rejected a promising suitor and went about caring for the poor and sick near her parents’ homes. Discouraged by the lack of opportunities for women in her social class, she investigated local hospitals to see about becoming a nurse and found not only that nursing required no formal training but also that the profession was considered disreputable.

Persistence Pays Off
Over her parents’ objections, Nightingale traveled abroad in her quest to learn more about nursing practices. After training there four months, she returned to bring the knowledge she had acquired back to London, where she secured a position of supervisor of the Hospital of Invalid Gentlewomen.

The Crimean War
Nightingale put her practical training to the test in 1854 when she arrived in Scutari with a band of 38 practical nurses and set to work attempting to impose sanitation on facilities that lacked essentials like soap, clean water, pails and cloths. Her efforts led to a decrease in the mortality rate of wounded soldiers there, most of whom were dying of disease and secondary infection, by 40 percent. Her work in Crimea provided graphic evidence of the link between proper sanitation and patient health.

The Last Half of Her Life
Unfortunately, Nightingale herself contracted Crimea Fever while tending the sick. Although bedridden at her London home, she continued to promote nursing as a profession through her writings, particularly in her influential work, Notes on Nursing, first published in 1860.

Florence Nightingale’s tireless devotion to her vocation led to development of a field that offers women and men alike opportunities to better themselves while helping others. She truly deserves the title, founder of modern nursing.

As you look to pursue an online degree program, why not consider a 100% online nursing program? You don’t have to break new ground like Florence Nightingale, but you can use your online college courses to establish yourself in a vibrant and ever-changing profession that has developed into one of the most respected and essential careers in the world.

At Grantham, we know that one blog isn’t enough to trumpet the virtues of this truly altruistic career, but we still want to be of service. Please check out these related blogs on nursing degree programs for more insight:
5 Tips for Thriving in Your Online Nursing Program
3 New Stats that Reveal Steady Growth in Nursing
National Nurses Week Theme Brings Back Memories