Facts from My Fiction: Florence Nightingale’s “Notes on Nursing”

When I was researching In The Eye of the Beholder and  In The Eye of The Storm, I studied how the medical profession dealt with various illnesses during the Victorian era.  I was specifically interested in mental health management and even wrote an article about it for InD’Tale magazine.

florence_nightingale_three_quarter_lengthOne of the books I read was Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing.  Florence was a well-to-do young woman who decided that the business of nursing needed a drastic overhaul.  During her time, nursing was primarily a non-professional business populated by women who were almost always from the lower economic echelons and with little education.  She was determined to change that … over the objections of her family.

Florence studied with the Sisters of Bermondsey (a nursing order of nuns) and learned standards of hygiene and bedside manner that she took with her to the Crimean Peninsula in 1854, during a bloody war.  She managed the hospital as Uskudar (Scutari) with a group of 38 educated, dedicated single women (married women were not permitted to come with her) who worked alongside men who questioned their capabilities at every step — until Florence proved the establishment wrong.  The doctors and patients alike started calling her The Lady with the Lamp, because she would go at night to check on the soldiers in the hospital.

The Turkish Army has preserved Florence’s office in the fort at Uskudar.  Unfortunately, unless you have a military connection you cannot visit it easily.

Part of what Florence Nightingale did that made such a change was write down her methods, creating what amounted to the first textbook for nurses and nursing students.  Notes on Nursing was published in 1860.

In In The Eye of The Storm, Gilbert Rochambeau reads Notes on Nursing in order to learn how to better help his wife as she deals with an ongoing illness.

You can read the full text at this link.


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