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Midwifery and the 2020 Nightingale bicentenary celebrations

02 January 2020
Volume 28 · Issue 1
 A portrait of Florence Nightingale, the architect of modern nursing
A portrait of Florence Nightingale, the architect of modern nursing


Ian Peate, editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Nursing, comments on the impact Florence Nightingale continues to have on the nursing and midwifery professions today

Midwifery will be in the spotlight throughout 2020 as this year has been declared the international year of the nurse and midwife by the World Health Organization (WHO); the Nightingale bicentenary celebrations are also taking place globally.

The year 2020 sees the 200th celebration of Florence Nightingale's birth. Nightingale, leader, icon and pioneer was born in 1820 and died aged 90 in 1910. She is seen as the philosophical founder of modern nursing as well as a female icon, a healthcare pioneer, a competent and respected researcher, statistician, analyst, an innovator and entrepreneur and a leader. Throughout 2020, there will be celebrations of the legacy she left. Nightingale inspired, and continues to inspire, nurses globally. Beyond nursing, her work has also informed mathematicians, architects, public health workers and activists.

Florence Nightingale respected patients regardless of their social class, disabilities, hygiene or occupation, and she insisted that a real nurse would abandon any class differences. The sick and infirm, she noted, require special constructive arrangements; emphasising how they are not paupers but rather are poor in affliction and society owes them every care for recovery (Nelson and Rafferty, 2010). Nightingale's influence on nursing continues. She personified many of the important ideas that are key to nursing today—values, vision and voice, the pre-cursor in many ways to the 6Cs (Department of Health, 2012). Nightingales' legacy of philosophical fundamentals still pervades within the profession today, informing contemporary nursing that has its roots embedded in Nightingale principles.

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