The Lady with the Lamp

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For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to devote my life to helping other people. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school when I started to explore the many things I could do with my life that would provide great benefits to the world around me. During a course in which I was taught the basics of nursing, I learned about one woman who was very inspirational to me, her name was Florence Nightingale. The struggles in which Florence Nightingale had been through led up to such great accomplishments which motivated me to reach my goal to become a nurse.

Unlike many women of the 1800’s Florence Nightingale was very educated and had a strong will to work (Ford). Nightingale’s family had planned for her to marry and start a family in which she would live to take care of, but she had other plans of putting off marriage and working as a nurse (Ford). During the 1800’s nurses tended to acquire “the reputation of being coarse, ignorant women, given to promiscuity and drunkenness (O’Conner),” but Nightingale paid no attention to the stereotypes. By the time she was 33, Nightingale began the process leading up to her nursing career (Ford).

Nightingale was one of several nurses working in awfully poor conditions, “hospitals were often dirty and dark and nurses were untrained (Ford)”. A group of nurses worked to serve in the Crimean War where working conditions were often getting worse every time new patients came in with illnesses or wounds (Florence). In response, Nightingale used a private fund and the help from the governmental sanitary commission to clean up the work area and make conditions much safer for the injured soldiers and also the nurses (Florence).

Several soldiers of the Crimean War began calling Nightingale “The lady with the lamp” because she not only devoted every day to taking care of the soldiers but she also came around ever night with a lamp to check up on the patients (Ford). Although Nightingale became ill during the war and never recovered completely, she didn’t stop (Ford). Once she had returned from the Crimean War she was determined to improve the working conditions of military institutions and all hospitals and to improve the skills of nurses.

To accomplish this Nightingale founded the Nightingale School for the training of nurses at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London, England (Florence). Nightingale was recognized all over the world and was even known as the “leading expert on military and civilian sanitation” (Florence). Nightingale was the first woman to ever win the Order of Merit award and in that same year, 1907, she was listed as the “pioneer of the Red Cross Movement” (Ford). As a result of continuously being ill, Nightingale rarely left her home for many years and in 1910 at the age of ninety she passed away in London, England (Florence).

Florence Nightingale’s life was quite a heroic journey. Nightingale ignored the sheltered existence and social norms of women and proved the numerous nursing stereotypes wrong. Nightingale achieved high positions in life, which was rare for women and usually dominated by men. And after all of those struggles and even after she became ill, Nightingale accomplished many remarkable things. Now, as I attend classes Florence Nightingale often reminds me of why I should stick to my goal of becoming a nurse.

There have been multiple times when I wondered if any of the hardship I am going through is worth it and on several occasions all it takes to gain motivation is to think about how I could possibly make an impact on the world like Nightingale. I am also inspired to try my best to make it into the Nursing Program despite the many discouragements and the occasional disappointment because I know people such as Nightingale put so much dedication into expanding the training of nurses.

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