Her Legacy as a Health Care Pioneer

Florence Nightingale

  • Contributed to the development of nursing as a true profession and inspired the first professional school of nursing
  • Developed the modern hospital including architecture, organizational charts, medical records, infection control, patient education, and nutritional services
  • Invented statistical diagrams to report the first hospital epidemiological study showing how basic sanitation reduced death rates
  • Was the first effective advocate for the health of soldiers and veterans
  • Wrote “Notes on Nursing” which is cited as one of the most influential books in the history of health care
  • Improved hygiene processes after dealing with a cholera outbreak and unsanitary conditions that were conducive to the rapid spread of the disease
  • Led a team of nurses to treat British soldiers injured during the Crimean War, which broke out in 1853
  • Worked tirelessly to clean up the Scutari Barrack Hospital and improve care for the soldiers with her efforts reducing the death rate by two thirds
  • Was known to patients as “the Lady with Lamp” as she spent nights monitoring and helping patients by candlelight
  • Proclaimed passionately, “I stand at the Altar of the murdered men [Crimean War soldiers] and while I live I fight their cause.”
  • Wrote “Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army,” an 830-page report analyzing her experience in Crimea and proposing reforms for hospitals
  • Recognized for her work by Queen Victoria who presented her an engraved broach and granted her a prize of $250,000 from the British government
  • Created, with Queen Victoria’s support, a Royal Commission into the health of the army by employing the country’s top statisticians
  • Funded the establishment of St. Thomas’ Hospital—with the Nightingale Training School for Nurses as part of it—with money from the Queen
  • Developed the “Nightingale Rose Diagram” to prove the effectiveness of the Sanitary Commission’s work on decreasing the death rate
  • Named the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society
  • Changed society’s view on nursing, which had been looked down on by the upper classes, as her notoriety and efforts resulted in it being considered an honorable profession
  • Battled poor health, which has been attributed to her contracting “Crimean fever,” and was bedridden by age 38 but remained an advocate for health care reform
  • Published “Notes on Hospitals,” which focused on civilian hospitals, in 1859
  • Served as a consultant (from afar) for the U.S. Civil War on how to best manage field hospitals for injured soldiers
  • Awarded the merit of honor by King Edward in 1908 at the age of 88
  • Died at age 90 on August 13, 1910, at her home in London


  • Born May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy, to Frances Nightingale and William Shore Nightingale
  • Grew up in the family home in Lea Hurst in England with a classical education
  • Declared her calling by age 16 to serve others as a nurse
  • Enrolled as a nursing student at the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Fliedner in Kaiserwerth, Germany, in 1844
  • Returned to London as a nurse in a Middlesex hospital for the chronically ill

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In the 2021 issue of Tribute

Tribute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

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