I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.
That is the oath that every nurse takes before they start their profession. It’s called the Florence Nightingale Pledge. But why? Why was a pledge named after a woman in the 19th century that thousands of people say upon graduation?
To understand this we have to look to one woman and the state of of hospitals prior to her appearance. Up until the 19th century hospitals were so unhygienic that they were just placed for people to go to die.
That’s why when Florence Nightingale announced to her upper class parents did not approve.Of course, the determined Florence won out. She went away to school before returning to London to take a nursing position. While there, she quickly moved up becoming a superintendent and gaining a prestigious reputation. So much so that during the Crimean War the Secretary of War asked her to take over the nursing duties.
Nightingale brought with her a team of women to the military hospital. The conditions were atrocious. The men were left in their own filth, the hospital was on a cesspool. Florence, her team and any able bodied patient went to work cleaning the place and making it organized. She even worked at night, making her rounds by lamp light.
After the Crimean War, Nightingale went on to write treatises and books on how to tend to patients. Her insight was so trusted that she was consulted for the Civil War.
“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.” ~Florence Nightingale
For Stories of women just as determined as Florence:
- Outlander Be cause of course, at some point this month I was going to have to recommend this series. A nurse from the 1940’s fell through time to the 17oo’s
- The Guilded Hour. The story of pioneering nurses in New York City during the turn of the century.
- Florence Nightingale 1820-1910 A biography of the woman behind the legend.