In today’s society nursing is seen as both a vocation and a profession. It requires knowledge, compassion and skill and is not for the faint of heart. Nurses are respected and trusted, as well as relied upon by people when they are at their most vulnerable. However this has not always been the case, as Florence Nightingale once put it nursing was left to “those who were too old, too weak, too drunken, too dirty, too stupid or too bad to do anything else” (1). It was not until the mid-1800’s that nursing was thought to require both skill and training and was not a respected profession (2). Opportunities for nursing outside the home were very limited as before 1880, the hospital treatment of illness was fairly rare. Where home services were adequate, a sick person was attended to by the family doctor and nursed at home either by female family members or highly trusted servants (2).
Nurses currently have to complete a 3 year degree course in one general area four of these are Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning and Disability nursing. Each degree gives those training to be nurses the knowledge and skill they require to be successful and compassionate nurses in the future (3). The idea of training nurses originated from Florence Nightingale herself and on the 9th July 1860 the world’s first professional nurse training school, established by Miss Nightingale at St Thomas’ Hospital was opened and is still open to this day, more than 150 years later, it is currently part of King’s College London. (4)
Persistence –she didn’t give up, this is an important characteristic that is important in all nurses, she knew that nursing was her vocation/calling and she is remembered because she didn’t give up or give in.
Who was Florence Nightingale?
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12th 1820 at the Villa La Columbaia in Florence, Italy (5), like her sister Frances Parthenope (born in Parthenopolis, which is now part of the city of Naples) she was named after her birthplace (6). She was a little under a year younger than Queen Victoria (who was born on the 24th May 1819) (5), who in 1883 awarded Florence Nightingale with the Royal Red Cross and in 1907 she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit (7).
Florence and Parthenope were taught at home by their Cambridge University educated father. Florence was an academic child, while her sister excelled at painting and needlework. She grew up to be a lively and attractive young woman, admired in the family's social circle and she was expected to make a good marriage, however Florence never married although she did receive multiple marriage proposals.
In 1837, while in the gardens at their summer estate, Florence had what she described as her 'calling'. Florence heard the voice of God calling her to do his work, although she at this point in her life had no idea what that work might be (5). Her religion gave her a sense of moral duty to...