Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Bedridden Activist

Dr. Vitelli:

By 1859, she was almost completely bedridden and remained an invalid for the rest of her life.

Not that her poor health prevented her from being a tireless crusader. In addition to publicizing the conclusions of the royal commission report which came out in 1859, she also published Notes on Nursing in that same year. Quickly becoming an introductory textbook for her newly established school, the slim 136-page volume is now considered a classic in the history of nursing. Florence Nightingale also threw herself into the establishment of a new royal commission on India (stemming from the Sepoy rebellion of 1857). Although she offered to go to India herself to aid with relief efforts, she was refused (and her declining health would likely have prevented her from going anyway). Largely working from her bed, Florence Nightingale and her assistants sent out questionnaires that she had developed to investigate sanitary conditions in various parts of India. After analyzing the results, she released a ninety-two page paper summarizing her findings which was eventually published as an appendix to the final royal commission report. Her public advocacy of statistical analysis led to her election to the Royal Statistical Society in 1859 (the first female to be so honoured) and she later became an honorary member of the American Statistical Association as well.

Being a total invalid called for some radical changes in Florence Nightingale's life and working style. Read more>>

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