International Year of the Nurse

Florence at Scutari Off the Charts reminds us this year is the International Year of the Nurse, so designated because it’s the hundredth anniversary of the death of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, statistician, theologian, and one of the most influential and astonishing persons of the 19th Century.

In homage and in honour I’ll be periodically (if irregularly) posting this year reflections and thoughts on Nightingale’s life, work and legacy, as well as excepts from her writings, which will be collected on the right hand column under the heading “The Nightingale Papers.” I would really welcome guests posting on Nightingale from any angle — I know you want to — because I think Nightingale’s contribution to our profession has been regrettably neglected by present-day nurse educators. If you’re interested let me know in the comments.

Incidentally, the International Year of the Nurse page has a hugely interesting wax cylinder recording of Nightingale made in 1890, when she was 70 years old. The voice is a little difficult to make out and is much deeper than I would have expected — she actually speaks in the way I imagine Lady Bracknell speaks. Here are the words she’s saying, which helps immensely deciphering the plummy accent:

“When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice perpetuates the great work of my life. God bless my dear old comrades of Balaclava and bring them safe to shore.  Florence Nightingale.”

She got her wish.


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  1. #1 by JennJilks on Sunday 03 January 2010 - 1736

    What a great idea!
    Although, like all the other celebratory years, we love and respect our nurses every day. We know how much they are the front line workers in health care. In my book I lauded the ones who were so helpful and informative when mom and dad were palliative. The physicians were sadly absent much of the time, especially in LTC. We had so many nurses at the house for mom, who died at home. They were like shining beacons in the dark night for me. They’d arrive at the door and I would be soooo grateful.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. #2 by mog on Sunday 03 January 2010 - 1857

    It’s not a post but a link

  3. #3 by torontoemerg on Monday 04 January 2010 - 1824

    Jenn: on behalf of all nurse, love and kisses.

    Mog: thanks for the link.

  4. #4 by wilomis on Monday 04 January 2010 - 2225

    Before starting nursing school… my nurse friend told me that I would learn Nightingale, love Nightingale and dream Nightingale whether I wanted to or not… sadly that has not been the case as my program (in its 11 month brevity) has cut out the Nightingale history lesson….. So I agree with your statement about the neglect concerning her contributions. Most professors say “she did great stuff, blah blah you already know this, and moving on.”

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