#BreakTheBias: Florence Nightingale

Sarika – Year 9 Student

Editor’s note: This excellent essay was the Year 9 Winner in the GSAL International Women’s Day Essay Competition 2022, open to all students in Year 7-9. The challenge was to write a 150-250 word essay on one female trailblazer or change-maker from the past, outlining their accomplishments and explaining why they are seen to be significant. Having been shortlisted, the essay was then read and reviewed anonymously by the school Principal who noted, “You pack a lot of information into a small space here, giving an overview of her work and achievements with a balance about her reputation and challenges to its previous presentation. Good flow, and I like the focus on leadership.” Sarika wins a small prize in recognition of this excellent achievement. CPD

Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820, and she was an English social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War in which she organized care for wounded soldiers at Constantinople. She gave nursing a favorable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.

Recent commentators have asserted that the media exaggerated Nightingale’s Crimean War achievements at the time, but critics agree on the importance of her later work in professionalizing nursing roles for women.

Nurses are high-impact leaders — Nightingale set the vision for nursing as a profession. She established principles and priorities for nursing education. She was an early advocate of evidence-based care. She recognized the privilege of nurses to view, understand, and transform health care systems.

She put her nurses to work sanitizing the wards and bathing and clothing patients. Nightingale addressed the more basic problems of providing decent food and water, ventilating the wards, and curbing uncontrolled corruption that was decimating medical supplies.

Exploring Nightingale’s characteristics such as her confidence, determination, integrity and compassion, her teachings and beliefs can transcend time to mould successful nurses more than a century later. “The voice of a leader”.


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