Who is called ‘The Lady with the Lamp’?

               ‘Service to mankind is service to God’ – the old saying truly describes the devotion of people who dedicate themselves to the cause of humanity. Florence Nightingale, popularly known as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’, epitomized it through her sincere service to the wounded British Soldiers of the Crimean War of 1854. She is considered the main inspiration behind modern nursing which has attained a great amount of respectability over the years as a noble profession. But why did she choose nursing as a career when it was even unthinkable for a woman to work?

               Born on May 12, 1820 in a rich family, Florence Nightingale showed her inclinations towards nursing when the matter of choosing her career came up within the family. When her parents heard that Florence wanted to be a nurse, they were shocked since in those days it was unthinkable for a woman of any respectable family to go out for work. Moreover few women had jobs in 1840s and nursing was not considered as a respectable career. But Florence had her way.

               In pursuit of her goal, she started a small nursing home in London. In 1854, on the outbreak of the Crimean war, she was appointed as the nursing-in-charge of the Scutari hospital in Turkey. Scutari hospital was overcrowded with wounded soldiers of the war. To overcome the work pressure there, she took 38 nurses along with her to attend the wounded soldiers. Nightingale worked day and night to put things in order in the hospital. The entire hospital was thoroughly cleaned, a laundry was started, the quality of the food was improved and the wounded were properly treated. For the first time, patients were provided with soaps, forks and knives, combs and toothbrushes. Florence kept everyone happy through her considerate attitude and sympathetic behaviour towards the patients. She established discipline in every sphere and made things work in a systematic and organized way. She came to be almost worshipped there. She was just like an angel for the service. Thankful soldiers seeing her pass at night carrying a lamp affectionately called her ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.

               Apart from the work at Scutari Hospital she did continue with her social service afterwards in various ways. She set about to improve the living conditions of the private British soldiers who could not be treated well during the war. She introduced many reforms in the British hospitals of those times.

               She set up the Nightingale training school for nurses in 1860, the first of its kind in the world. Though the strain of her work in the war deteriorated her health, yet she continued training the hospital nurses as well as looking after the welfare of British soldiers.

               Though she became blind at her old age, she still continued her work and in the year 1907, she became the first woman ever to be awarded the Order of Merit. She died in 1910.