Nursing: a voice to lead in the 2020s

12 May 2022
3 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 9

Each year, on 12 May, I take great pride in celebrating and showing my appreciation for nursing colleagues working across the health and care system on International Nurses Day, which marks Florence Nightingale's birth in 1820.

Many of us immediately think of Nightingale holding a lamp. If you know a little more about her history, you may place her in Crimea, helping injured British soldiers. Few people—or fewer than she deserves—know to credit her for the immensely important public health leadership role she played. She recognised that too many people were dying from poor sanitation and a lack of effective infection prevention.

It was not until I started working in public health that I fully appreciated how Nightingale had used statistics to achieve major health reform. Having collected hospital mortality data for 2 years while in Crimea, Nightingale used a then pioneering way to present her findings. Using rose diagrams, she was able to illustrate that most people were dying from poor sanitation and infection, which was considered largely preventable.

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