Florence Nightingale Complete Essays

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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820. She is most remembered as a pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospital sanitation methods. She was a Victorian woman and in the era in which she lived it was almost impossible to gain any recognition as a scholar and an expert in her field. When Nightingale was a child, she fought with her mother for the right to study mathematics. Her mother held firm to the belief that girls were only supposed to study poetry and philosophy, this would give them the background to make a good bride and be able to hold intelligent conversations at parties. Nightingale fought against this and finally convinced her father to allow her to study mathematics. When she turned of age, she again shocked her family by enrolling in a nursing program in Kaiserwerth, Germany. Most people believed that common women and prostitutes should only fill a nurse’s role. Nightingale made it a personal priority to change this image.

She spent three years in Germany training to become a nurse, after this she recruited a small number of untrained women and took them to a British military hospital in Scutari, where she trained them and taught them her philosophies of nursing. She believed that fresh air, water and sunshine were critical to the recovery of her patients. Efficient drainage of wounds, cleanliness and a healthy diet were extremely important, in the days when these methods were not taught. She believed that moving a patient’s bed to give them a better view was a nurse’s responsibility, along with the responsibility to provide a healthy diet and to record what was eaten daily. Her emphasis on cleanliness of bed linens and patients was scoffed at by the medical profession but proved to be an innovation for the medical field in the future. She always held nurses responsible for the health of their patients. This included not only cleanliness, but also the environment in which the patients were healing. Noisy hallways and rooms were not allowed and unruly family members would often be asked to leave. She believed that if she changed a patient’s environment she could eventually bring about changes in the patient.

It has often been said that Nightingale refused to accept the germ theory. This theory stated that all illness came directly from germs. Florence Nightingale believed in germs, she just added to this theory by explaining that germs were not the only things that caused illness. Over and over again her letters and essays laid down the law about the sterilization of instruments, in order to kill germs. However, she also believed that the environment of the patient played a crucial part in the healing process and that this factor should never be overlooked. Sterilization and antiseptic technique came slowly to London. In 1886, steam sterilization of dressings was pioneered in Germany and sterile rubber gloves for operations were first used in 1890. But as late as 1933 there were still surgeons that still performed abdominal surgery “ the antiseptic way” which involved dousing bare hands, swabs and instruments with an antiseptic liquid, and often smoking cigarettes while performing the surgery. Nightingale taught her nurses that this method was incorrect and insisted that the nurses under her instruction used the correct method taught by her. It was this knowledge that her power in the nursing community grew. After training in Germany and spending some time nursing the wounded in the Crimean war. She made many political contacts and these also played a role in her political power. She used the contacts to not only improve the medical fields, but also to criticise them. It was her critical nature that made her the enemy of many doctors and medical communities.

After the war Nightingale realized that many soldiers had died not of there original wounds but from nosocomial infections. It was at this time that she decided to use her power to change some things in the medical field. Her