Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820,
in Florence, Italy. She died on August 13, 1910,
in London, England.
In the 1800's, nursing was one of the lowest occupations
in Europe. Nurses did not receive formal education
and were not taught about medicine.
Some nurses oversaw the
sick patients, but they did not help them get
better. Other nurses came from the Catholic Church.
These nuns cared for the sick because of their
religious faith, not because they sought a career
Nurses worked in hospitals.
The hospitals were not the clean, sanitary places
they are today. They were overcrowded, poorly
run, and disease infested. Hospitals were not
a place where people went to get well. They were
a place where people went to die.
One woman made a difference
in the medical profession. She was Florence Nightingale.
Florence established a training school for nurses
and improved sanitary conditions in the hospitals.
This opened the way for other improvements in
the medical profession.
In the 1800's, there were
also many improvements in medicine. These include
discoveries by Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister
and the use of anesthetics.
Louis Pasteur was a French
chemist and microbiologist. In 1850, Pasteur developed
the germ theory of disease which stated diseases
were caused by germs. This was a breakthrough
discovery and an important step in the development
of modern medicine. It allowed Pasteur to develop
vaccines for rabies, anthrax, and chicken cholera.
Joseph Lister was a English
surgeon. He followed Pasteur's germ theory of
disease. In 1865, he used antiseptics to dress
wounds and sterilize medical instruments. The
antiseptics killed microbes before they caused
infections. This helped reduce the number of deaths
after surgery and proved proper hygiene in the
medical profession would save lives.
Anesthetics were introduced
into the medical field. They are pain killing
drugs. Before anesthetics, the pain from the surgery
was just as bad as the pain from the wound. Anesthetics
allowed doctors to perform surgery without the
patients feeling additional pain. Soon, anesthetics
were used in all hospitals for all types of surgery.
International Red Cross
In 1864, the International Red Cross was founded
by Jean Henri Dunant. It began as an international
society of volunteers who cared for sick and wounded
soldiers and prisoners of war.
Soon, the work of the Red
Cross spread throughout the world. In 1870, the
British Red Cross Aid Society was founded. In
1881, the American Red Cross was organized by
Today, the Red Cross does
more than help the sick and wounded during wartime.
The Red Cross also provides disaster relief during
peacetime. When a flood damages homes or an earthquake
destroys buildings, the Red Cross provides food,
clothing, and medical treatment to the victims.