I recently visited the Florence Nightingale Museum in London. Situated near St. Thomas Hospital, where the original Nightingale Training School was established, this surprisingly modest building houses a collection of fascinating historical artefacts (including that famous lamp).
As I wandered through the exhibition I couldn’t help thinking about Nightingale’s tenacity, indomitable strength and the many challenges she had to overcome. From the beginning her parents vehemently opposed her choice of career, viewing nursing as a job for the poorly educated working class, and not appropriate for a respectable woman. During the Crimean War Nightingale and the other army nurses worked in rat infested and overcrowded conditions, surrounded by filth, decay, disease, pain and suffering, tending thousands of wounded and dying soldiers. Over and over again Nightingale’s attempts to implement change and improve patient care were met with resistance and criticism from her medical colleagues.