Florence Nightingale, Nurse Entrepreneur

Florence Nightingale has many titles to her name. She has been known as the Lady of the Lamp and the Mother of Modern Nursing.

But entrepreneur? Really? Yes!  There is a thing or two still left to learn from Florence. Let’s look at her story.

Early Years

October 1853, the start of the Crimean War. A brutal battle fought by an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey, and Sardinia against the Russian Empire.

As for Britain, thousands of its young men were sent to the front. Prepared to give their all, many young men wound up wounded and sick at the British hospital in Constantinople.

Florence_Nightingale._Coloured_lithograph._Wellcome_V0006579_miniConditions in the hospital were deplorable… patients on stretchers piled into hallways, rats running freely throughout the building, rooms, and hallways filled with stench.

But it did not deter Florence Nightingale and her group of nurses…

Early on, Florence Nightingale realized nursing was her calling. Against her parent’s wishes, she studied nursing at a hospital in Germany.

Upon her return to England, she worked as a nurse in a hospital. In recognition of her exceptional performance, she was promoted to superintendent within the first year. By organizing and restructuring resources she was able to improve hygiene practices and lower the death rates at the hospital.

In 1854 Nightingale reportedly was asked by the Secretary of War to organize a group of nurses; they were to care for the sick soldiers at the hospital in Constantinople.

Once at the hospital, the group of 34 nurses worked tirelessly. Over time, conditions at the hospital were greatly improved.

Nurse Entrepreneur

Florence Nightingale pioneered a number of services designed to improve conditions and aid the healing process.

  • She created the “invalid kitchen”, where meals for patients’ with special dietary requirements were prepared.
  • She created a “laundry” so that patients would have clean lines and clothing.
  • She created a library of entertainment so that patients would be intellectually stimulated.

Florence_Nightingale_by_Goodman,_1858How was Florence Nightingale able to accomplish all this?

She drew upon her entrepreneurial talents of organizing, structuring, persuading, and creating. She helped her “customers” and provided overwhelming value to them.

As you know, entrepreneurs are not just found in the “make money” arena. True entrepreneurs can be found in all walks of life, profit and non-profit alike.

An entrepreneur is a person who:

  • Sees, recognizes, and identifies
  • Starts, initiates, and takes action
  • Creates… creates something better or something new.
  • Provides solid value to customers

As for Florence Nightingale:

  • She communicated with her team of nurses, persuading them to follow her ideas.
  • She organized limited resources into something more efficient and effective, thereby helping her patients.
  • She implemented ideas and created something new… pioneered new programs.
  • She provided solid value and created lasting change.

Entrepreneurs identify a need and go to work; they recognize opportunity and go to work.  

They create something different, something new out of the individual parts in front of everybody’s eyes.

Florence Nightingale, our “Lady with the Lamp”, was a pioneer and a dedicated nurse.

And, as odd it may sound, she had the mind and spirit of a true entrepreneur.

Image Credit: Wikimedia, The Lady with the Lamp, popular lithograph reproduction of a painting by Henrietta Rae, 1891

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