Skip to main content

08 March 2018

#pressforprogress with Florence Nightingale International Women's Day 2018

Florence Nightingale was a pioneer of progress who continues to inspire today.

Florence Nightingale

The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care is a direct descendant of the world’s first professional school of nursing at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1860, founded by Florence Nightingale herself.

Throughout her life, Florence was a pioneer of progress. Born into a rich, upper-class family, Florence had a desire to be a nurse, and worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing, despite opposition from her mother and sister.

Florence eschewed the restrictive social code for affluence young English women, and reportedly turned down suitors as she believed marriage would interfere with her ability to be a nurse. 

In 1847, she met Sidney Herbert, the Secretary of War. This led to Florence being sent to the Crimean War in 1854, with a staff of 38 women who she had trained. Seeing the poor conditions and overworked medical staff in the Crimea, she set to work by improving basic hygiene, sanitation and nutrition for the patients. It was during this time, whilst making her rounds through the hospital, that she earned the nickname ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.

On returning to England, Florence was given £45,000 thanks to donations from the public through fundraising activities, and soldiers who had fought in the war donating a day’s pay. With the money, she set up the Nightingale Training School, and began training the first Nightingale Nurses in 1860. Her book Notes on Nursing served as the cornerstone of the curriculum.

Her legacy in reforming sanitation and basic hygiene and healthcare standards founded the modern nursing profession, setting an example of compassionate, committed and diligent patient care.

Florence’s lasting contribution remains a cornerstone for today’s nursing students, none more so than in our Faculty.  Listen to Anne Marie Rafferty, Professor of Nursing Policy in the Faculty, talk about how Florence’s legacy lives on.