Nursing is one profession that doesn’t often hit the headlines. Although nurses do one of the most important, impactful jobs in the world, they often don’t get the recognition they deserve. This applies both to nurses working today, and to those who’ve shaped the industry over the centuries. Nurses are there for patients at some of the most traumatic, eventful, and awe-inspiring moments of life, and as such, should be celebrated and applauded for doing so.
The following are just 3 examples of many notable nurses in history. Among others, these women shaped the nursing industry in their home countries and around the globe. What’s more, every day, more great nurses are qualifying and working in the United States and around the world, many of whom have trained in specialist areas or worked to gain extra qualifications such as doctor of nursing practice.
Perhaps in another century, the nurses of today will be featured in celebratory articles just like this one!
Florence Nightingale 1820 – 1910
Perhaps the most famous nurse in history, Florence Nightingale was known as the Lady with the Lamp. Her fame is mainly due to her work on extended health and on increasing hospital patient survival rates.
Many of today’s health and hygiene procedures are a direct result of her research.
Working throughout the Crimean War, Nightingale gathered much of her information from collaborating with colleagues. She learned that a large number of wounded soldiers were dying as a result of unhygienic conditions. She launched a huge reform that dramatically increased the survival rate of soldiers in hospital. This reform then spread to other hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Virginia Henderson 1897 – 1996
Henderson was known as the First Lady of Nursing. She was an innovator of organization in the nursing industry.
One notable achievement was her detailed list of what constituted the need for a nurse. The list included functions such as breathing, eating and sleeping, and it worked by identifying areas that a person was unable to do alone. If the person struggled with any of the functions on the list, they needed help in form of a nurse.
Following Henderson’s theory, a nurse’s work was complete when the patient no longer needed assistance in any of these areas.
Clara Barton 1821 – 1912
Clarissa Harlowe “Clara” Barton began her nursing life by caring for her father. She then devoted her career and life to assisting people through times of illness. She carried on nursing through the Civil War, first arranging medical equipment and supplies, and then helping wounded front-line soldiers.
Her work was so impressive that she was later put in charge of Union hospitals and became known as the “Lady in Charge.” After the war was over, Barton traveled to Europe, where she came across the International Committee of the Red Cross. Impressed by the organization, when she returned to America, Barton founded the American Red Cross, devoted to disaster relief and emergency aid.
These famous nurses in history left their mark on the world and saved many lives.
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