Florence Nightingale is considered a saint by many for raising the standards of nursing, educating caregivers, and changing the perspective of how nurses were viewed in the healthcare profession.
As the most famous nurse in history, Nightingale is remembered most by her work during the Crimean War (1853-56), where she described hospital conditions as being “horrid.” During her time as a wartime nurse, she educated new nurses on higher standards of nursing care and eventually organized a nurse training school in London.
Nightingale helped pioneer the nursing profession as we know it today. One way to help us understand how and why she made many of the decisions that she made as a nurse is by reading through one of her many famous nursing quotes. Read on to hear about the thoughts and feelings that Nightingale had regarding healthcare and the nursing profession from 165 years ago.
The 35 Most Famous Nursing Quotes By Florence Nightingale:
- “If you knew how unreasonably sick people suffer from reasonable causes of distress, you would take more pains about all these things.”
2. Never speak to an invalid from behind, nor from the door, nor from any distance from him, not when he is doing anything. The official politeness of servants in these things is so grateful to invalids, that many prefer, without knowing why having none by servants about them.”
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3. “There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain.”
4. “The craving for ‘the return of the day”, which the sick so constantly evince, is generally nothing but the desire for light.”
5. The amount of relief and comfort experienced by the sick after the skin has been carefully washed and dried is one the the commonest observations made at a sickbed.”
6. Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.”
7. Women should have the true nurse calling, the good of the sick first, the second only the considerations fo what is their “place” to do – and that women who want for a housemaid to do this or the charwomen to do that, when patient is suffering, have not the making of a nurse in them…”
8. If a patient is cold, if a patient is feverish, if a patient is faint, if he is sick after taking food, if he has a bed-sore, it is generally the fault not of the disease, but of the nursing.”
9. Everything is sketchy, the world does nothing by sketch.”
10. Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion. Remember hs is face to face with his enemy all the time.
11. “That Religion is not devotion, but work and suffering for the love of God; this is the true doctrine of Mystics.”
12. The martyr sacrifices themselves entirely in vain. Or rather not in vain; for they make the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower.”
13. “I have learned to know God. I have recast my social belief… All my admirers are married; most of my friends are dead; and I stand with all the world before me, where to choose a path to make in it.”
14. “Do not meet or overtake a patient who is moving about in order to speak to him or to give him any message or letter. You might just as well give him a box on the ear. I have seen a patient fall flat on the ground who was standing when his nurse came into the room.”
16. “The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.”
17. Everything you do in a patient’s room, after is is ‘put up’ for the night, increases tenfold the risk of his having a bad night. But, if you rouse him up after he has fallen asleep, you do not risk – you secure him a bad night.”
18. Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothi8ng small in it. Far the greatest things grow by God’s law out of the smallest. But to live your life, you must discipline it.”
19. “The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe – how to observe – what symptoms indicate improvement – what the reverse – which as of importance – which are of none – which are the evidence of neglect – and of what kind of neglect.”
20. It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that is should do the sick no harm.”
21. A hundred struggle and drown in the breakers. One discovers the new would. But rather, ten times rather, die in the surf, heralding the way to that new world, than stand idly on the shore…
22. “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”
23. “So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”
24. “Badly constructed houses do for the healthy what badly constructed hospitals do for the sich. Once insure that the air in a house is stagnant, and sickness is certain to follow.”
25. “If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of a very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.”
26. “Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection.”
27. “The greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”
28. “God spoke to me and called me to His Service. What form this service was to take the voice did not say.”
29. Sick children, if not too shy to speak, will always express this wish. They invariably prefer a story to be told them, rather than read to them.”
30. “A dark house is always an unhealthy house, always all ill-aired house, Always a dirty house. Want of light stops growth and promotes scrofula, rickets, ect,. amoung the children. People lose their health in a dark house, and if they get ill, they cannot get well again in it.
31. And what nursing has to do in either case, is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.”
32. “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”
33. “Why do people sit up so late, or more rarely get up so early? Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have no time in the day to themselves.”
34. I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”
35. “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”
Additional recommended reading:
- Prayers For Nurses & The Sick
- Nurse Life: How To Achieve A Work-Life Balance
- How Pediatric Nurse Training Reminded Me To Have More Gratitude
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Healthcare Journalist & Content Marketing Writer @ Health Writing Solutions
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