“Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.” –Florence Nightingale
March is National Women’s History month. The media is replete with stories of notable women in athletics, art, business, and politics who have garnered fame and laudable accomplishments.
As such, it seems incredulous for us to forget to celebrate the lives of the women who pioneered institutional and/or cultural change when the climate for women to change anything but diapers was customary.
One notable change agent was the positively positive deviant, Florence Nightingale!
Born into a gentrified life of leisure, this Victorian phenom distinguished herself at an early age because of her keen mind and love of all things mathematical. In the days when women were relegated to a singular purpose of marrying and raising a family, the thought of educating women was considered a waste of time. Without modern labor-saving conveniences (or a team of servants to assist), that assumption was a societal necessity.
Nightingale pushed back on societal norms and argued that the lack of education for women continued a vicious cycle that perpetuated women of little means to a life of prostitution. She argued that this lack of opportunity was tantamount to holding a whole class of people as slaves. Mind you, this argument was made many years after her grandfather had worked with William Wilberforce to craft legislation to make slave trade illegal!
Nightingale was a true humanitarian who worked tirelessly, at great personal expense, on the work she was “born to do.” Some assume this was limited to creating a nursing profession for women, because she was so successful at that. However, her other work included an overhaul of the British military hospital system, continued political activism for humanitarian work, and assisting population health by the planning and provision of sanitary conditions on not one, not two, but four continents!
Her detractors considered her a pain in the derriere, because she was so determined to change the status quo. As healthcare clinicians, we can individually use that reflection as inspiration to reach further in our own circle of influence.
You can find the original article here Confident Voices In Healthcare