For those of you with children, or perhaps those of you who are hopelessly young at heart, I want to share a discovery I made this week. It's about the latest offering of 'Dangerous' books. These are little books that I read with my children that share essentials of things every boy (and girl) must know, such as how to make paper airplanes or how to make a water bomb. My daughter has her own copy of The Dangerous Book for Girls. Rather than focus on the section she refers to as the pretty section, she directs her attention to subjects like negotiating your salary and history.
Now for the hero version. Amazon offers this description: "Filled with the British sense of fair play and decency that made 'The Dangerous Book for Boys' so popular, 'The Dangerous Book of Heroes' celebrates those who fought for what is right and good, those who made amazing discoveries, those who moved boundaries in their lifetimes."
We love these books so we grabbed it off the shelf. I was pleasantly surprised as I read the most recent 'Dangerous' offering and there she was, Florence Nightingale!
I could not agree more. I'm delighted to see the inclusion of this amazing leader and contributor to the improvement of health and health care. She is the woman whom many call "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night to tend injured soldiers. Yet Florence Nightingale was much more, she was a statistician, she was a change agent and she was willing to stand up for what she believed in. In 1859 Nightingale, considered a catalyst of modern professional nursing, was the first elected female member of the Royal Statistical Society and she later became an honorary member of the American Statistical Association.
From some of her earliest writings you get a sense of her commitment (and style) to tear down the walls of silence in hospitals and introduce a new way to care for the sick. She focused on measurement and science and she had an uncanny way of telling a story. She didn't bother to sugar-coat her message. She drove change in a pragmatic and sensible fashion. In Notes on Nursing, What It Is and What It Is Not, she writes,
A short time ago a man walked into a back-kitchen in Queen square, and cut the throat of a poor consumptive creature sitting by the fire. The murderer did not deny the act but simply said “It’s all right.” Of course he was mad.She writes these notes on Ventilation and Warming, but she pushes at the very core of deep issues in hospitals and medicine (a broad stroke at the medical establishment itself, not simply physicians). Her writing is direct and unapologetic. If you've never had the opportunity to read them, I highly recommend both "Notes on Nursing" and "Notes on Hospitals." You'll discover that Florence Nightingale was undeniably a pioneer in quality improvement.
But in our case, the extraordinary thing is that the victim says, “It’s all right," and that we are not mad. Yet, although we “nose” the murderers in the musty unaired, un-sunned rooms, the scarlet fever which is behind the door, or the fever and the hospital gangrene which are stalking among the crowded beds of a hospital ward, we say “It’s all right.” pp 6
A courageous leader who refused to settle, indeed Florence Nightingale has earned her place among heroes.
Nightingale created many novel graphics to present statistics that would persuade Queen Victoria of the need to improve sanitary conditions in military hospitals. The area of each region shows the number of soldiers who died of wounds, disease, or other causes, during each month of the Crimean War. Credit: Public domain