As a young woman, Florence Nightingale decided she wanted to help people by becoming a nurse.
Although she was born to a wealthy family who encouraged learning, her parents didn’t approve of her nursing ambition. After all, no educated woman back then went into nursing. Nurses were poor servant girls or Catholic nuns. Hospitals were dirty and overcrowded.
How could their daughter work in places like that?
But Nightingale was determined. She entered a nursing program in Germany. Then, in 1853, the Crimean War began, and Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia. The next year, Nightingale sailed to Turkey with 38 nurses to help out. She soon realized that more soldiers were dying in hospitals than on the battlefield and pressured the military to improve the horrific conditions. She even used her own money to buy fresh food for the patients and equipment for the hospitals.
As conditions improved and lives were saved, people began to take notice. When Nightingale returned to England, she promoted her ideas in hospitals there. She began a nursing school and wrote books and articles about hospitals, sanitation and nursing.
Nightingale turned nursing into a respected profession and saved countless lives.