Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Florence refused to marry several suitors, and at the age of twenty-five told her parents she wanted to become a nurse. Her parents were totally opposed to the idea as nursing was associated with working class women.
Florence's desire to have a career in medicine was reinforced when she met Elizabeth Blackwell at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. Blackwell was the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the United States. Blackwell, who had to overcome considerable prejudice to achieve her ambition, encouraged her to keep trying and in 1851 Florence's father gave her permission to train as a nurse.
Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment, in 1860, of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London, the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.
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