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Database: Florence Nightingale

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ACS DB Florence Nightingale

Date of Birth: 12 May 1820.

Florence Nightingale was driven by her faith and her convictions from a young age. She knew she wanted to become a nurse when she was a little girl, but her parents disapproved of the idea, seeing it as below their upper-class station. Nightingale would later tell her associates that she received a message from God when she was 17 telling her to become a nurse.

That guy can be pretty specific.

Now, I don't want to put down someone who did a whole lot of good for people, but that just seems a little convenient, doesn't it? What would've happened if God told her to be a plumber instead?

Anyway, Nightingale trained herself to become a nurse, and when Britain entered the Crimean War began in 1854, she found work on the front lines. A LOT of work. With a staff of 38 volunteer nurses and 15 nuns that she personally assembled, Nightingale was both disciplined and organised in administering care to injured soldiers. I apologise, this is starting to read like a bad CV. The point is, she was very good at her job and recognised that nurses needed to be better trained at home before being sent into battle.

Nightingale returned home in 1855 and established the Nightingale Fund, aimed at training nurses while the war raged on. In 1859, she published Notes on Nursing, which became the standard text used to train nurses, and founded the Nightingale Training School in St. Thomas's Hospital the following year. The rest of her life was dedicated to advocating for women's rights and especially better sanitation in London and India after discovering the role hygiene played in healthcare.

Florence Nightingale died in her sleep on 13 August 1910. She was 90 years old. While she left a great legacy behind, scholars these days are quick to point out that, for all of her advocacy for women's rights, she opposed the idea of women working as physicians, or even having the vote. The hell, Flo?

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