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Florence Nightengale's Influence On Modern Medicine

2667 words - 11 pages

2Florence Nightingale was dedicated to service and tireless in her efforts to improve nursing. The circumstances of the Crimean war and the conditions of military medical care gave her challenges for requiring her best work. The high profile and importance of that war meant that her work was noted and appreciated at the highest levels as well as the public at large. She turned the fame, due to her efforts, to more gains for sanitation and nursing care throughout the world.Early LifeFlorence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, into a wealthy, upper class, well-connected British family at the Villa Colombaia, Florence, Italy, and was named after the city of her birth. Florence's older sister ...view middle of the document...

She became Superintendent of a women's hospital in London and her reputation for her skills began to grow. Her parents admired her ambition, though they were saddened that she didn't intend to marry and live the life in society they had achieved.[1: Mark Bostridge, Florence Nightingale: the making of an icon (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), 139.]Britain Goes to WarDuring the years leading up to the Crimean War, France, Russia and Britain were all competing for influence in the Middle East, particularly with Turkey. Religious differences were certainly a catalyst in the Crimean War. Control of access to religious sites in the Holy Land had been a cause of tension between Catholic France and Orthodox Russia for a number of years and in 1853, the conflict came to a head with rioting in Bethlehem, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire ruled by Turkey. A number of Orthodox monks were killed during fighting with French monks. Tsar Nicholas I blamed the Turks for these deaths.Tsar Nicholas I demanded that the dispute be resolved in favor of the Orthodox Church and sent his representative Menshikov to Constantinople (now Istanbul) with demands on the Porte (the Turkish court). These demands were not met however and Nicholas took the opportunity to mobilize the Russian army against Turkey, which at this point was beginning to lose its grip on its empire. Nicholas referred to Turkey and its weakening empire as the 'sick man of Europe' and historians have argued that he had ambitions of his own in the eastern Mediterranean. The British and French, for their part, were concerned about Russian expansion in the region and the potential threat to their trade routes.[2: Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: a history (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010), 68.]The Crimean War was covered in the newspapers in more detail than previous wars. British citizens were outraged to read that wounded British soldiers were dying of ill treatment, poor sanitation in hospitals, and scarce supplies, most notably in Scutari, across the Bosporus from Istanbul. The soldiers were being shipped by the hundreds across the sea to a barracks roughly converted to a hospital. There weren't enough beds, and no one to clean the patients of their own blood and excrement, much less treat them for healing. The Secretary of War called on Nightingale, who already was known for her nursing skills, at the same time she sent a letter volunteering to go to the battle. Nightingale volunteered to go to the hospital in Scutari and recruited thirty-eight other women to go with her.ScutariHer headquarters were in the barrack hospital at Scutari, a huge, filthy, rat-infested place where infection was rife. Conditions were far worse than she had imagined or expected. Stores had not got beyond Varna or had been lost at sea so food and medical supplies to treat wounded soldiers were scarce. More soldiers died from sickness then war wounds and many are buried in unmarked graves. Descriptions from...

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