Happy International Nurse’s Day! We are delighted that nurses have their own day and are acknowledged for their hard work, tireless work ethic and admirable decision to devote their lives to helping others in need.
International Nurse’s Day is celebrated on May 12th every year. But do you know why May 12th is such a special day for nurses?
May 12th is the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the woman credited with creating “modern-day” nursing as we know it. A natural leader, she was born to a wealthy English family in Florence, Italy in 1820. Although her family did not approve, she decided to study nursing and follow what she called “a calling from God.” Ms. Nightingale had a very strong interest in public health matters. For centuries, nursing had all but become extinct. Many people died in hospitals due to a lack of nurses. Ms. Nightingale’s historic role in bringing public health to the central spotlight and highlighting the vital importance to society of having nurses changed the face of public health and sanitation.
In 1854, many European populations were in the throes of the Crimean War. It was during this time that Florence Nightingale became famous; word was getting back to England and Ireland about the horrific sanitation and health conditions of the wounded soldiers, and urgent help was needed. Ms. Nightingale organised, mobilised, and led a team of 38 women, many of them nuns and many of them from Ireland, to the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) and upon arrival were faced with horrible conditions in caring for the wounded. She and her team were able to communicate this with British journalists, to ask for a government solution from Britain. This reulted in the building of a civilian hospital with good facilities that had a much lower death rate than the previous conditions. This also led to a complete overhaul of sanitation systems, as the nurses noted that many more soldiers died of disease and infection than of their actual wounds. Because Ms. Nightingale worked even through the night, she gained the nickname “The Lady With The Lamp.”
Interestingly enough, one of Florence Nightingale’s biggest allies and closest friends was an Irish nurse named Mary Clare Moore. Ms. Moore was born and trained in Dublin. She became acquainted with Catherine McAuley, an Irish nun who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin in 1831. The Sisters of Mercy organisation –on Baggot Street- was in charge of giving care and education to the homeless and poor, and also cared for patients during cholera outbreaks. Ms. Moore became extremely experienced and efficient in direct-patient care during her time at The Sisters of Mercy, and she joined Florence Nightingale in Crimea in 1854, at the age of 40. She was full of energy and became Florence’s right-hand woman. Together they were a formidable team.
After her work in Crimea, a fund was established (named in her honor) to establish proper training for nurses. Thanks to her incredible body of work, modern-day nursing as we know it was born.
Thank you nurses, for all the hard work that you do!