Florence Nightingale Timeline


Florence Nightingale


The Nursing Profession
In the 1800's, nursing was one of the lowest occupations in Europe. Nurses did not receive formal education and were not taught about medicine.

Some nurses oversaw the sick patients, but they did not help them get better. Other nurses came from the Catholic Church. These nuns cared for the sick because of their religious faith, not because they sought a career in nursing.

Hospital Conditions
Nurses worked in hospitals. The hospitals were not the clean, sanitary places they are today. They were overcrowded, poorly run, and disease infested. Hospitals were not a place where people went to get well. They were a place where people went to die.

Medical Advances
One woman made a difference in the medical profession. She was Florence Nightingale. Florence established a training school for nurses and improved sanitary conditions in the hospitals. This opened the way for other improvements in the medical profession.

In the 1800's, there were also many improvements in medicine. These include discoveries by Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister and the use of anesthetics.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist. In 1850, Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease which stated diseases were caused by germs. This was a breakthrough discovery and an important step in the development of modern medicine. It allowed Pasteur to develop vaccines for rabies, anthrax, and chicken cholera.

Joseph Lister (1827-1912)
Joseph Lister was a English surgeon. He followed Pasteur's germ theory of disease. In 1865, he used antiseptics to dress wounds and sterilize medical instruments. The antiseptics killed microbes before they caused infections. This helped reduce the number of deaths after surgery and proved proper hygiene in the medical profession would save lives.

Anesthetics were introduced into the medical field. They are pain killing drugs. Before anesthetics, the pain from the surgery was just as bad as the pain from the wound. Anesthetics allowed doctors to perform surgery without the patients feeling additional pain. Soon, anesthetics were used in all hospitals for all types of surgery.

The International Red Cross
In 1864, the International Red Cross was founded by Jean Henri Dunant. It began as an international society of volunteers who cared for sick and wounded soldiers and prisoners of war.

Soon, the work of the Red Cross spread throughout the world. In 1870, the British Red Cross Aid Society was founded. In 1881, the American Red Cross was organized by Clara Barton.

Today, the Red Cross does more than help the sick and wounded during wartime. The Red Cross also provides disaster relief during peacetime. When a flood damages homes or an earthquake destroys buildings, the Red Cross provides food, clothing, and medical treatment to the victims.

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©  2009 D. K. Malowney

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy. She died on August 13, 1910, in London, England.