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Florence Nightingale - Success and InfluenceFlorence Nightingale - Success and Influence


Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)


English nurse and pioneer of modern nursing and better hospitals (pictured right) .

Heroically looked after British casualties in the Crimean War

Became known as the Lady with the Lamp, the phrase Henry Longfellow (pictured right below) used in a poem about her.


Why was she successful and influential?Florence Nightingale - Success and Influence


1. Vision

Her dream was holistic health care i.e.not only curing disease but also preventing it through:

  • health promotion.
  • clean hospitals.

During the Crimean War in her hospital at Scutari (in Turkey), she discovered that 10 times more troops were dying from disease and unhygienic, overcrowded hospitals than from their wounds.

She said that the first requirement of a hospital is that

“It should do the sick no harm”.

 Florence Nightingale - Success and Influence

2. Intelligence and learning

She used her brilliance at mathematics and statistics (inventing the pie chart) to:

  • illustrate changes in health care.
  • support her case for better treatment of patients.

For example, she showed that the big fall in death rates at her Scutari hospital (pictured right) were caused mainly by clean sewers and good ventilation (see point 1)

She was a naturally curious person who loved learning new things, particularly about patient care.


3. Religion and compassion

Her whole life was given to the service of God and other people.

She believed that God wanted her to help patients, and her kindness towards them was legendary.

Her aim was to ensure that all nurses had the same devotion to their patients as hers.


 Florence Nightingale - Success and Influence

4. Ambition and determination

Nightingale (pictured right in the 1840's) always wanted to be a nurse.

Nursing also had a poor reputation as a career (nurses were often ignorant and rough),

But she persevered and transformed the nursing profession, despite:

  • the intense disapproval of her mother
  • a constant battle with depression.

It was a remarkable achievement for a woman to do so much, because women were then:

  • considered socially inferior by men.
  • not expected to have a good career.


5. Luck

Her parents were wealthy, and her father gave her an annual income of £500 (about $60,000 today) to live comfortably and pursue her nursing career.

 Florence Nightingale - Success and Influence

6. Action

Nightingale (pictured right as a young girl) was brilliant at:

  • cutting through red tape.
  • getting things done quickly (e.g. getting hospital supplies).

Perhaps her greatest achievement was to bring professional and trained nurses into the infirmaries of workhouses, where 80% of ill people had to go, because ordinary hospitals required payment.

She was determined to help these poor patients, when she saw their appalling, dirty conditions (e.g. bed sharing).


Key quote on success

I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.


Key quote on decision making

One’s feelings waste themselves in words. They ought to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.


Key quote on God

To understand God’s thoughts we must study statistics.


Key quote on fear and anxiety

How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.


Key quote on influencing people

Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.


Key quote on women

Why have women passion, intellect, moral activity...and a place in society where no one of the three can be exercised?

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