Florence Nightingale


Florence Nightingale in 1870
Photo by Jess Sweeney via Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Jones and Rachel Hobson look at the life of Florence Nightingale. This famous woman changed nursing and hospital care.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Hello. I’m Ruby Jones.

Voice 2

And I’m Rachel Hobson. Welcome to Spotlight. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

What do you think of when you hear the name Florence Nightingale? Do you think of hospitals, with nurses caring for their patients? Do you think of a strong woman? Many people remember learning about her at school. But who was the real woman behind the stories?

Voice 2

In today’s Spotlight programme we tell of Florence Nightingale. How did her life change the medical world? How did she influence ideas about nursing?

Voice 1

The year was 1820. Florence Nightingale was born into a wealthy English family. Florence’s father wanted her to receive the best education possible. So he decided to teach her himself. He taught her history, philosophy, mathematics and many languages. Most women did not receive this kind of education.

Voice 2

Florence’s parents were interested in politics. They supported groups that opposed slavery. From an early age she learned that people could make a difference. But at the time, women did not have many rights in Britain. And women in Florence’s financial position were not supposed to work. They were expected to marry and have children.

Voice 1

Around the age of 16, Florence was sitting in a garden. She was enjoying the nature all around her. There in the garden she had a spiritual experience. She described it as the ‘calling’ of God to do his work. She was strongly influenced by the example of Jesus Christ, particularly how he healed the sick and cared for the poor.

Voice 2

As Florence became a young woman, she started visiting the poor and sick. She visited many hospitals in England. And she tried to find jobs that were open for women.

Voice 1

At the age of 25, Florence went to her parents. She told them that she wanted to work as a nurse. But in those times most people had a bad opinion of nurses. Many nurses did not care for patients very well. Instead they were famous for stealing from their patients. Often they were desperate women who could find no other work. Florence’s parents were shocked by her request. And they refused it.

Voice 2

Florence had to wait six long years to make some progress with her family. Finally she asked her parents to let her go to a nurse training school in Germany. The school was far away. Her parents’ friends would not know about it. Her parents would not feel any shame. So, they said yes.

Voice 1

It was in Germany that Florence saw how important good nursing could be. When she returned to England, she was excited. She visited many hospitals. And she accepted a position to manage a women’s hospital. This was her first taste of being free to manage her own life.

Voice 2

But historical events would change her life completely. The Crimean War was in progress. England, France and Turkey were fighting against Russia. Injured British soldiers were taken to an army hospital in Scutari, Turkey. In September 1854, a British newspaper reporter told of the suffering of wounded British soldiers there. He told how the medical treatment they received was very bad. He asked:

Voice 3

‘Are there no women willing to help the suffering soldiers in the hospitals of Scutari? Are no daughters of England ready for such a work of mercy?’

Voice 2

Florence immediately offered to go. And she had powerful friends who helped her. The Secretary for War was one of them. He strongly believed she should go too. He promised that she would have authority over nurses, and help from the medical staff. He also promised her the full support of the British government.

Voice 1

So Florence left for Scutari with 38 trained nurses. When they arrived, they were shocked. The hospital was very dirty. And the injured soldiers did not have blankets. They did not have good food. They were still wearing the clothes they had been injured in.

Voice 2

Florence and the nurses cleaned the hospital. And Florence brought many supplies that the hospital needed. But the doctors there did not like Florence. They did not want her to interfere.

Voice 1

This did not stop Florence. She helped to organize the hospital. She organized the food being prepared and the washing of clothes. She sent their pay to their families. She wrote letters for them. And she created reading rooms. At night she walked around the hospital to make sure they were all right. She always carried a lamp to light her way. The soldiers loved her. They called her ‘the lady with the lamp’.

Voice 2

Although Florence had been in Scutari for six months, even more soldiers were dying. Most were not dying from war injuries. They were dying from diseases such as cholera and typhoid. This was because of poor air flow and a poor waste removal system. Finally a team from England arrived to fix these problems. After this the soldiers started to recover.

Voice 1

Florence returned to England. By this time she had become a heroine to the nation. The public gave her credit for saving the soldiers at Scutari. But Florence did not seek fame. In fact, she hid from the public. She was a very private person.

Voice 2

In England, Florence examined all the evidence from her time in Scutari. She made a careful study of all the facts. All this time she had believed the soldier were sick for the wrong reasons. She had thought it was because of bad food and difficult working conditions. Finally she understood they were sick because of poor hygiene - especially the bad air flow and poor waste removal. Florence decided to use this information to change hospitals all over England. She wrote hundreds of letters to important people about needed changes. And she started the first training school for nursing in England. Florence also wrote the book ‘Notes on Nursing’ the spread her ideas around the world.

Voice 1

Critics of Florence Nightingale say the public has the wrong image of her. They say that history has given her too much of the credit for saving the soldiers. They say she was a strong-minded, controlling person. However, Florence has many defenders. They say that through her work, Florence saved many lives after she left Scutari. And later she worked all the time to change hygiene problems in hospitals. They say she had to be strong to make changes happen. Florence was living in a world when men had all the power. She had to be forceful for them to listen.

Voice 2

To many people Florence will always be a heroine. She changed opinions about nursing. She made it a respected job. She cared greatly about the sick and needy. She truly was the ‘lady with the lamp’.

Voice 1

The writer and producer of today’s programme was Rachel Hobson. All quotes were adapted for this programme. The voices you heard were from South Africa and the United Kingdom. Computer users can find our programmes on our website at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, ‘Florence Nightingale’. Goodbye.

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Question:

How are nurses treated in your country?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
SaraPham
said on November 03, 2019

good for practice english

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on November 05, 2019

From .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To spotlight program
Subject to answer the question below
Location at 1150 líder avenue block 2 apartment 42 cidade líder São Paulo city - São Paulo Brazil - 03586-000 Telephone numbers 55 11 22545124 home , 55 11 960309023 cell phone ,  55 11 26616048 work’s place

Dear Rachel Hobson and Ruby Jones

I want to thank you for writing and producing more one great article for us brazilian people and others around the World. And I am very proud to read this article because I am nurse and I work at the hospital here in Brazil.
Question 1 - How are nurses treated in your country?
Answer 1 - The nurses ( males or famales) are treated as angels by the patients and the society.
Yours regards,
God bless you
Severino Ramos
Brazil

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on November 08, 2019

I think they are treated like ordinary professionals who do their jobs well, others not so well. I personally, fortunately, have had a little contact with nurses, and regard them with feelings of sympathy.