10 Facts About The Pioneer of Modern Nursing

1. Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820

Florence, Italy inspired her name.

 2. Raised in an affluent family

Her mother, Frances Nightingale was born into a family of merchants and enjoyed socializing with people of similar status. Her father, William Edward Nightingale was a wealthy landowner.

3. Ambitions

She approached her parents about her ambitions to become a nurse and they were not pleased. During this era, a woman of her status was expected to marry a man to ensure her class standing. Instead, she refused a marriage proposal from a gentleman because she felt called to something beyond a domestic life, which was nursing.

4. Nursing School

Florence Nightingale enrolled in nursing school in 1850 & 1851 at the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses in Kaiserswerth, Germany. This was despite her parents’ objections because she believed that nursing was her true calling.

5. Crimean War

In 1854, she received a letter from the Secretary of War, Sidney Herbert to organize a corp of nurses to assist the fallen soldiers. She spent a year and a half with approximately 36 nurses improving the sanitary conditions of the hospital which reduced the hospital death rate by 66%. In the evenings, she would carry a lamp making rounds and seeing patients. The soldiers referred to her as the Lady with the Lamp.

6. Recognition from the British Government

Queen Victoria awarded Nightingale with a prize of $250,000 from the British Government for her work during the Crimean War.

7. St. Thomas’ Hospital

She used her prize money to help establish the St. Thomas’ Hospital which held the Nightingale Training School for Nurses.

8. Crimean Fever

Later in life, she contracted the bacterial infection brucellosis (Crimean fever) which she never recovered from and remained homebound from the age of 38. Determined, she did not let the illness stop her from continuing her great work. She worked from her home the rest of her life as a writer, advocate, and consultant.

9. August 1910

At her home in London, Florence Nightingale died at the age of 90 years old on August 13, 1910 after falling ill and suffering from multiple symptoms.

10. The Florence Nightingale Museum

The Florence Nightingale Museum sits on the site of the original Nightingale Training School for Nurses. The museum holds over 2,000 artifacts paying tribute to the life and career of the Lady with the Lamp.


If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to read the book Notes on Nursing which was written by Florence Nightingale and published in 1859. To learn why, click on the link below!

The Book Every Nurse Should Read




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The Book Every Nurse Should Read