Another reason we continue to celebrate nurses on May 12th

Each year on May 12th as I celebrate International Nurses’ Day I’m reminded of Florence Nightingale’s legacy.

All of us in society, whether we are nurses, patients or family, share a debt of gratitude to Nightingale for laying the foundations of nursing and establishing many of its principles we value today.Florence_Nightingale_monument_London_closeup_607

I was reminded of this recently when I visited the Nightingale Museum housed in the Selimiye Barracks at Scutari, Istanbul. It contains many relics from the Crimean War between Russia and the combined forces of Britain, France and Turkey. This war is remembered not only for the Charge of the Light Brigade but also for the terrible troop losses from disease which led to a Royal Commission into Military Hospitals. Florence Nightingale’s association with the Crimean War is also justly famous because of her attention to the nutritional and hygiene needs of the sick and wounded troops. She fought authority wherever she found it to be misguided. She made a difference.

I was able to visit this most historic museum when I travelled to Greece and Turkey to commemorate Australian and New Zealand nurses’ achievements during WWI. Like Nightingale half a century before them, the nurses of WWI skilfully cared for the physical and emotional needs of our wounded soldiers, and improved their survival rates so that many of these young men could return home and contribute to our growing society. In recent months, I’ve written more about this trip in the Journal of Perioperative Nursing in Australia and I’ve posted some photos on the NSWNMA Blog Nurse Uncut.

So this year, let’s all remember our debt of gratitude to Florence Nightingale for establishing what we know today as the profession of nursing and consider the many ways that nurses contribute to our society.

Would love to read your comments here about how you celebrate International Nurses’ Day – thanks for reading, Sally.