Well our Midwives were celebrated and revered last week for International Midwives’ Day, however today is all about our nurses. So step forward fellow nurses and take a bow for the amazing work and care you provide every day.
Although nursing may not have had a past weaved with persecution that midwives experienced, it is a profession nonetheless that has endured loss, challenges and has been littered with inspirational omen and men as the profession has grown.
Many know about Florence Nightingale, the famous nurse from the Crimean War heralded as the founder of modern nursing practice. What isn’t as widely known is that she spent relatively little time actually tending to the sick. She arrived in Scutari (modern Üsküdar, Turkey) in November 1854 with 38 nurses in tow, and proceeded to reorganise the hospital from top to bottom. Interestingly enough, despite this, death rates soared with them only falling when the sewerage system was overhauled and the source of infection removed.
There was a nurse however who played a significant role in the Crimean War, a Jamaican-born nurse called Mary Seacloe. Mary was initially rejected by the Army as a nurse so she travelled there at her own expense. Now that is what I call a dedicated nurse! She built the British Hotel – just two miles from the front line – which comprised of a bar (alcohol and healthcare have had a longer association than most people realise), a hospital and a general store.
Mary’s loyalty and care was repaid when she returned from the war, penniless. Within a few months, her friends in the upper echelons of the Army and the press were mobilised to set up the Seacole Fund to save her from bankruptcy. In July 1857, the fund-staged a four-day festival featuring more than 1,000 performers. I guess you could say it was the first ‘Live Aid’ event with a crowd of 40,000 people, an impressive number for its time.
There have been many other heroines and heroes within nursing who have shaped where the profession is today. So I would like to finish with one other little known fact, that on average a nurse walks 6.4 km (or 4 miles) a day – Now if only Fitbit knew about this, they could promote a career where achieving your steps for the day would be a breeze!
I ask you all to take a moment today to remember a nurse that has in the past – or now – cared for you or a member of your family and join me in thanking them for all the work they do.
Mary Angelou best said it:
“They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”