10 Most Famous Nurses in History

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale has been memorialized in countless memorials and paintings, such as this circa 1857 portrait.
Florence Nightingale has been memorialized in countless memorials and paintings, such as this circa 1857 portrait.

She's been called "The Lady With the Lamp," "The Queen of Nurses" and "The Soldier's Friend." Florence Nightingale is possibly the most well-known nurse in history.

Nightingale was born into a wealthy British family in 1820. She heard the call to nursing early in her life, and completed her training at the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth in Germany in 1851. But it was what she experienced during the Crimean War that changed her path from 19th century nurse to legendary nurse.

Upon her arrival on the scene in Turkey with a team of 38 nurses, Nightingale found devastating conditions: unsanitary hospitals, few or no supplies, and poor patient care. Nightingale and her nurses tended to the wounded British soldiers, many of whom were also sick with cholera and malaria, and set about improving hospital hygiene in an effort to reduce infections. It worked, and after the war, in 1860, she founded the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, where nursing students would learn not only about patient care, but also about the importance of good hygiene and sanitary conditions in medicine. The school's curriculum laid the groundwork for modern nursing education.

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