In the 1800s, nursing was not considered an appropriate profession for a ‘gentlewoman’ – nurses were sometimes described by the gentry as “coarse, ignorant women given to promiscuity and drunkenness”. Florence certainly had great influence in changing that perception, establishing a nursing school in 1860 to teach what has evolved to modern nurse training. It is interesting to note that 2 years earlier, in 1858, she was the first woman elected as a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in London – a far cry from nursing, bedpans and wound dressing.
What has this to do with modern nurse call systems?
Simply that statistical analysis of care has been proven to have a profound positive effect on both mortality and quality of life. This is Florence’s greatest legacy and a lesson modern-day developers must include in system design. During the Crimean War, Florence used statistics to illustrate that if you improved hospital hygiene, soldiers’ lives were saved – and they could return to the battlefield sooner. Her influence over nursing was as much about mathematics as it was about romantic notions of care (as the poster girl “Lady with the Lamp” suggests).
In the 1800s, polar area diagrams were considered to be leading-edge tools in the battle for improving care outcomes, and Florence used these to illustrate the benefits of improved hygiene.