HNN120 Safety And Quality In Health Care

Florence Nightingale: Pioneer Of Modern Nursing

Florence Nightingale esteemed as the creator of modern nursing was born on 12 May 1820 in Florence, Italy. She was a statistician (inventor of a special pie chart), a humanitarian, scientific figure, and a social reformer. Florence learned multiple disciplines including religion, philosophy, language, and mathematics from her father. All this learning was reflected in her work later in life. 

Figure 1

Source: (Karimi & Masoudi Alavi, 2015)

In 1844, she expressed the desire to work at the hospital but was denied since nursing was not considered a decent profession at that time in England.  In 1850, she went to France and Germany to work as a volunteer in hospitals and returned to London in 1853 to work as a manager in a hospital. However, the year 1854 marked the beginning of Florence’s life as the pioneer of modern nursing.

In 1854, France, Britain, and Turkey initiated the Crimean war with Russia. Though Russia was defeated, there were many casualties in England. Medical facilities were scarce and mortalities were high in British military camps. At that time, Florence was friends with the minister of war, Sydney Herbert. She used this connection to contribute her help to the situation.

Florence went to the British military camps in Constantinople (Istanbul) with 38 nurses. She noticed that the condition of those camps was devastating as doctors were trying to manage the patients with limited facilities and in a dirty environment. Florence, utilizing her mathematical prowess, calculated the hospital’s mortality rate and drew a conclusion that in every 1000 injured soldiers, 600 died owing to infectious diseases.

Florence initiated her intervention by providing a clean environment of care (clean water, fruits, and medical equipment) (Gilbert, 2020). After this, the mortality rate declined from 60% to 42% and then eventually came down to 2.2%. Florence used to visit the soldiers every night and became like a caring mother for them. With her exceptional work, she succeeded to gain the support of Queen Victoria and PM Lord Palmerston who grant her the request to initiate an official investigation in military hospitals after which the Royal Institute for research in military help was established. She was the recipient of many awards.

Florence started the first nursing school, the Nightingale nursing school in 1860 which transformed nursing as a profession. In the same year, she published the first book on nursing called “notes on nursing”. Her services were the first struggle for relieving war suffering. Florence gave the principles of confidentiality, trusting relationships, observation, communication skills, various teaching methodologies, and a bright environment and fresh air in the profession of nursing (Karimi & Masoudi Alavi, 2015). 


After reading about Florence Nightingales’ life, I learned that she was a very kind person who, in her life, wanted to serve people. In addition to being kind and helpful, she was also an intelligent woman. Her knowledge of mathematics formed the basis for her revolutionary steps in the area of hygiene in nursing practice.

Even without complete support from her parents and society to pursue nursing as a profession, Florence was steadfast in her aspirations and determined to work for healthcare. With this determination, she changed the course of modern nursing. She was proactive during the war and was helping the soldiers without caring for her own health.

Learning about Florence changed the way I view nursing, Florence loved and lived for this profession. Her work taught me the value of the relationship that exists between nurses and their patients. Florence’s dedication to serving sick people and working for humanity left a huge impact on me. Florence is an ideal figure not only for her contribution to the nursing profession but also for her contribution to humanity.

Additionally, Florence made a huge contribution to teaching the significance of hygiene practices in providing healthcare services. At that time, she not only found out the reason behind the high mortality rate but also commenced timely interventions to save the lives of the soldiers. She opened the Nightingale nursing school which paved the way for the future many more aspirants who wanted to pursue nursing as a respectable profession.

Florence preached that a clean and bright environment with fresh air and sunlight is what sick people want as closed rooms might be more problematic for them. I will try to reflect this learning in my nursing practice to provide my patients with the best care. Florence taught me the value of building a positive and trusting relationship with patients. With this learning, I will now be more responsive and empathetic towards my patients. For this, I will work on my communication skills. Her teaching of hygiene is more significant than ever in the present world with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. Florence taught me that nursing should be viewed as a novel service to humanity and the primary focus should be on providing care to the patients by providing them with a clean and positive environment.


Gilbert, H. A. (2020). Florence Nightingale’s Theory and its influence on contemporary infection control. Collegian, 27(6).

Karimi, H., & Masoudi Alavi, N. (2015). Florence Nightingale: The Mother of Nursing. Nursing and Midwifery Studies, 4(2).