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Who was Florence Nightingale?

Florence NightingaleFlorence NightingaleFlorence Nightingale (1820–1910) was an English nurse. She greatly improved the quality of medical care for British soldiers during the Crimean War (1853–56). Her work led to major changes in the way that hospitals were run. We can see this in hospital wards today. Florence Nightingale grew up at a time when nursing was not thought to be a respectable job for a woman. She led the way for women from all backgrounds to follow her example.

Florence Nightingale as a young womanFlorence Nightingale as a young woman

Early life

Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820. Florence and her older sister grew up in a wealthy family. Their father wanted his daughters to have a good education, which was unusual for girls at this time. While in her teens, Florence began to visit poor and sick people, carrying out simple nursing tasks. She soon realised it was something she wanted to spend her life doing. 

Florence’s family were upset by the thought of her working as a nurse. This was because hospitals at the time were dirty, dangerous places. They tried to discourage her, but Florence's mind was made up. Eventually, she got a job as the head of a women’s hospital in Harley Street, London.Florence working as a young nurseFlorence working as a young nurse

One of Florence Nightingale’s most important work was in nursing education. The Nightingale School of Nursing was set up in 1860 at St Thomas’s Hospital, London. Nurses there were taught practical skills such as correct bed-making and the dressing of wounds. Later, they were trained in anatomy (the study of the structure of the human body).

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