"What a privilege it is, the work that God has given us Nurses to do, if we will only let Him have His own way with us—a greater privilege to my mind than He has given to any woman (except to those who are teachers), because we can always be useful, always 'ministering' to others, real followers of Him who said that He came 'not to be ministered unto' but to minister."
Florence Nightingale founded the modern nursing profession. She transformed nursing into a respected career for women and set an example of compassionate, committed patient care and quality hospital administration. She also pioneered the field of infographics, inventing a pie chart to graphically represent statistics.
During the nineteenth century, hospitals in Britain were not the first choice for the sick due to a lack of proper hygiene and training among the staff. Nightingale’s work helped change the image of the hospital from a place the sick went to die to an institution devoted to recuperation and healing.
Nightingale founded the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King’s College London. She wrote a popular book on nursing that was used in many nursing schools. She also mentored America’s first trained nurse, who then established the first high-quality nursing schools in the United States.
Nightingale’s influence on modern healthcare is so great that even today, nurses say the “Nightingale Pledge” during their pinning ceremony at the end of their training.
Nightingale also pioneered reform in hospital administration. She published more than 200 books about hospital planning and organization to improve healthcare standards. For example, she came up with ward designs in hospitals to improve the health and recovery of patients. Her books are still widely read and respected today.
Nightingale, who came from a wealthy family, rebelled against the social norm for women of becoming a wife and mother, instead working hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing. Through her work, she expanded the careers of women in the workforce at a time when women were socially prevented from working.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Nightingale was a sincere Christian who believed God called her to devote her life to serving others. At the age of 16, she experienced several “calls from God” to relieve human suffering, which she pursued through nursing. She once wrote in her journal: “Whether in having a drain cleaned out, or in ventilating a hospital ward, or in urging the principles of healthy construction of buildings, or of temperance and useful occupation, or of sewerage and water supply, I always considered myself as obeying a direct command of God.”
In addressing nurses in training at the nursing school she established, Nightingale repeatedly talked about God and Jesus as the Author of their work and the standard by which they must fulfill their calling. She quoted the Bible in stating that nursing is a “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” and that as “Christian women, followers of Him by whose name we call ourselves,” they must press forward each day to improve in nursing and personal conduct. She also said, “What a privilege it is, the work that God has given us Nurses to do, if we will only let Him have His own way with us…”
Nightingale believed Jesus’s mission was also her mission. In one of her books, “Suggestions for Thought to Searchers After Religious Truth,” Nightingale wrote, “Christ, indeed, came into the world to save sinners, to wash them with his blood, to deliver men from sin and its consequences,” [death and sickness], “to establish the kingdom of heaven with him.”