Florence Nightingale and National Nurses Week


This month we celebrate National Nurses Week May 6th to May 12th and honor Florence Nightingale.  Florence’s birthday is May 12th the final day of the celebration week and we thought a  good way to honor her would be to share some fun facts you may not know.

I hope these facts will enlighten you about this brave woman.

Florence Nightingale Was Born in Italy

Florence Nightingale was born to British parents in Florence, Italy and they named her after the city.  A year later the family returned to England and she was raised in an upper-class family.  Florence’s older sister, Frances Parthenope was also born outside of England named after the city of her birth.

She Was a Polyglot

Florence Nightingale was fluent in several different languages making her a polyglot. She spoke fluent English, German, French, Italian and understood classical Greek and Latin.  Since her father was a Cambridge graduate he supervised her education which sparked her early interest in language.

Her Parents Didn’t Want Her in Nursing

When Florence informed her parents about her interest in nursing they were not pleased. In the early-to-mid 1800s, nursing wasn’t a respected profession but was seen as a low-paying job for women of low social status.

Loved by the Press

She was known to be seen caring for wounded soldiers into the night, Her best-known nickname, “The Lady with the Lamp,” is the result of an article in the London Times.  The times covered her efforts in Crimea. After the details of Nightingale’s hard work became public, she grew to be a popular figure throughout the United Kingdom.

The Queen Admired Her

Queen Victoria took note of her efforts in Crimea and presented her with a broach in appreciation and personal thanks for her work. She was fortunate to meet the Queen in person in 1856.  Again in 1883, Nightingale she met the Queen when she was awarded the Royal Red Cross in Windsor.

She Was an Author and an Educator

Florence published her Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing in 1859.  She wrote of a variety of patient care principles and many nursing students read it even today.  The Nightingale Training School was founded in London in 1860.  This is a school where many of the 19th-century fine nurses were trained.  The school exists today as an academic school within King’s College London.

She Trained America’s First Nurse

Linda Richards is regarded as America’s first trained nurse.  She was a student in Nightingale’s school in 1877.  Once Linda Richards returned to the United States, she helped to establish nursing schools across the nation.  Later she traveled to East Asia to establish and supervise the first training school for nurses in Japan

She Improved Sanitation in England

Florence Nightingale created more sanitary conditions that saved many lives during the Crimean War.  She was instrumental in pushing for legislation forcing existing buildings to connect to the main drainage passed as part of the Public Health Act of 1874.

A Member of Order of Merit Recipient

Florence Nightingale was the first woman to become a member of the Order of Merit, which was established by King Edward VII in 1902. The Order of Merit celebrates individuals who have achieved great things.  Achievements include the fields of science, education, literature, or art and there are only 24 living members of the order at any given time.

Funeral for Florence Nightingale

August 13, 1910, Florence passed away in her London home and could have had a national burial at Westminster Abbey.  Florence’s family declined and instead honored her wish to be buried in her family’s plot at St. Margaret’s Church, East Wellow, in Hampshire, England.

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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