Any modern hospital is dominated by two professions. One is a doctor, and the other is a nurse. They are also called medical staff and are respected as “white angels”. Worldwide, there are more than 200 million registered nurses. Every year on May 12, all nurses will celebrate their own holiday – International Nurses’ Day. Why is May 12 a holiday for nurses around the world? Because, this day is the birthday of Nightingale, the goddess of the lamp.
Today, we would like to introduce the story of Nightingale.
Nightingale, whose full name is “Florence Nightingale”. Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820, while her parents were traveling in Florence, Italy.
Nightingale’s family environment was quite privileged, but she had compassion for the poor people, as she wrote in her diary: “No matter what time of the day, I can never let go of those suffering people in my heart ……” For this reason, Nightingale often gave food, medicine and clothes to the poor people around her to solve their urgent needs.
In December 1844, a tragedy happened in London deeply touched Nightingale. At that time, a poor man was admitted to a factory hospital in London, and due to the backward medical environment, the poor man died tragically. When the news got out, the London public severely blamed the factory hospital. Nightingale considered it differently.
Nightingale believed that the cause of the poor man’s death was the backwardness of the factory hospital’s medical environment, so it was necessary to make efforts to improve the hospital’s medical environment and provide good medical services for patients. So, despite the opposition of her family, Nightingale entered the hospital as a nurse.
In fact, nursing is an ancient profession. As early as 250 B.C., nurse training schools were established in ancient India to train male nurses. In the early 19th century, more and more women joined the nursing workforce. However, the hospitals were poorly managed, the medical standard was backward, and the quality of nurses was low, mostly filled by ignorant, rude, and alcoholic women.
Nightingale vowed to change this situation, and on August 12, 1853, Nightingale established a nursing home at 1 Harley Street, London, to provide more comfortable and convenient nursing services for patients.
In March 1854, Britain and France intervened in the Crimean War, jointly sending troops to fight against the Russian army. During this war, British soldiers suffered a high mortality rate of 42% among wounded soldiers due to very poor medical care and lack of adequate medical staff, which exceeded the battlefield mortality rate. This meant that most soldiers did not die on the battlefield, but in the field hospitals.
Nightingale was very distraught when she learned of this situation. In October of that year, Nightingale, with the consent of Minister Hébert of the British Army Operations Department, led 38 nurses to the Crimean battlefield to work in the British Army field hospitals.
Nightingale gave 30,000 pounds to purchase medicine and medical equipment for the British field hospital, and also worked on renovating the operating room, canteen and laboratory to improve the living environment and nutritional conditions of the wounded soldiers. Under the careful care of Nightingale and others, the mortality rate of the British wounded soldiers dropped significantly from 42% to 2% in just 6 months.
During this period, Nightingale did everything herself, often carrying an oil lamp at night, walking on the rugged mountain road to the wards 4 miles away, visiting the wards and calming the wounded soldiers. The wounded soldiers affectionately called her “the goddess with the lamp.
One wounded soldier wrote emotionally, “The lights swayed and drifted, and the cold night seemed to be filled with warmth. Hundreds of us wounded lay there, and when she came, we struggled to kiss her slender figure floating on the wall.”
This is the famous “Kiss of the Wall Shadow”.
Nowadays, when nurses graduate, they will hold a “cap and candle” ceremony, and the burning candle symbolizes the Nightingale spirit of “burning oneself to illuminate others”.
Nightingale’s efforts in the Crimean battlefield were not in vain, and countries saw the importance of nursing work and began to establish and improve the modern nursing system.
After Nightingale returned to England, she established a nurses training school to train professional nurses and opened the door to modern nursing education. Since Nightingale only recruited female nurses, male nurses gradually withdrew from hospital nursing positions.
In December 1907, King Edward VII awarded Nightingale a medal of merit – the first time in British history that such a medal was awarded to a woman. It was the first time in British history that such a medal was awarded to a woman.
Nightingale died in London, England, on August 13, 1910, at the age of 90 after a long illness. Two years later, in 1912, the 9th International Red Cross Conference was held in Washington, D.C., USA, which approved the establishment of the Nightingale Medal and designated May 12, Nightingale’s birthday, as “International Nurses’ Day”.