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As the saying goes, “health is wealth.” However, I believe health is more than wealth; health is actually life. Wealth is replaceable; it can be lost and gained back even more. But when health is at stake, life is at stake, and when health is lost life is lost. When the body deteriorates life deteriorates and when the body ceases to function life ceases to function. Without sound health life cannot be enjoyed but endured. Risking your health is risking your life. Therefore, health is life.

We highly esteem the medical professionals both Doctors and nurses who hazard the possibility of death to save those who have been afflicted with the coronavirus. Some of these medical professionals have indeed lost their lives in a bid to saving lives as they contacted the dreaded coronavirus. We esteem them as true heroes as we remember and celebrate their courage and the difference they have made in human lives all around the world.

As an honor to the medical professionals, we bring to mind the timeless legacy of Florence Nightingale who helped to usher in the era of modern nursing and encouraged army medical reforms all the while laying down everything and risking her life in the process of saving human lives.

Florence Nightingale was born into wealth and had the privilege that wealth offers but yet decided to lay aside the privileges of a wealthy life to be the hope of those that have been less privileged. She was filled with a compassionate desire to help the downtrodden. At the age of seventeen was the turning point of her life. In her words, “God spoke to me…and called me to His service.”

She decided to take up nursing as a profession and as her life’s calling. However, she had to walk away from her elite class and walk into the lower class as nursing was perceived in those days as scandalous and looked down upon as menial work-the only nurses that were respected were nuns who worked in church hospitals.

Initially, Nightingale’s parents resisted her decision in becoming a hospital nurse, in their perception because of the disgrace it will bring to the family. However, Nightingale’s determination was unwavering as she began to study nursing on her own in the evening. Eventually, her parents agreed but with a condition that it should be a family secret.

Nightingale left home for a 3-months nursing training and when she came back home, in her words, “My family treated me as if I had come from committing a crime.”


During England’s epidemic of 1884, Nightingale plunged herself in the slums and public hospitals as she nursed the poor and sick, she mastered nursing administration before resigning to set up a proper teaching program for prospective nurses.

As the Crimean war broke out with deplorable health care and medical facilities to care for the wounded soldiers, Florence Nightingale was appointed the Superintendent of the female nursing Establishment of the English Central Hospitals – She was to get forty qualified nurses to accompany her. That was the critical opportunity for maximum service and Nightingale maximized it to change the face of nursing.

Florence Nightingale and her team made their entry into the Barrack Hospital in Scutari. The hospital was rather in a despicable and deplorable state; there was very little freshwater and no furniture or beds; but rather the wounded were laid on straw mats on filthy floors that were crawling with vermin. To worsen matters the wounded were poorly fed  – animal carcasses were hacked into portions and thrown into boiling water and then the pieces were handed out to the soldiers-all these impeded their recovery rate.

Florence Nightingale immediately directed orderlies and nurses to clean up the mess. She ordered scrubbing brushes for the floors and enough supplies for each patient’s clothes to be washed. She directed the preparation of edible food.  

Florence Nightingale was faced with a rather overwhelming situation as efforts to improve the hospital’s condition were hindered because the British officers and their medical officers had a low estimation or regard for the average soldier. The problem was further compounded by the army doctors who treated her as a society nuisance rather than recognizing her value as a trained nurse who could help save lives.

Florence Nightingale moved into a space of action. To initiate improvement at Barrack hospital and other hospitals, Nightingale was resolute and utilized her pen. During her time in the Crimea, she wrote 300 detailed letters and in her life, Nightingale authored over 200 books and pamphlets and around 13, 000 letters. Many of these letters were sent to the government officials-she wrote late into the night. Nightingale’s letters backed up by facts and statistical information to support her claims were used by cabinet officials of the government to make required changes in the British army organization during the course of the Crimean war. Nightingale went around the gigantic hospital comforting countless patients and assessing their needs.

A nurse who accompanied her states, “it seemed an endless walk…A dim light burned here and there. Miss Nightingale carried her lantern which she would set down before she bent over any of the patients. I much admired her manner to the men-it was so tender and kind.”

Florence Nightingale due to her track record changed the image of nurses giving the profession respectability around the world.

Florence Nightingale inspected other hospitals and displayed enormous courage by visiting the troops at the war’s front without any fear of being killed or wounded.

After the end of the Crimea war, she was celebrated as a national hero but she was not present in the festivities but rather stayed in the Crimea until every soldier had left.

Miss Florence Nightingale pushed for reforms in India for the rest of her life and made progress.


  • A meaningful life is not lived by being served but by serving others.
  • Being in an elite class does not enlist you for a fulfilling life but living to make a difference enlist you in the class of heroes.
  •  Until you identify with the poor and the downtrodden you can’t identify the need to be of genuine help to them.
  • Your life’s purpose is a personal conviction to help meet a need in order to change the personal condition of human lives.
  • Never look down on what you do if people will look up to it to better their lives.
  • What you do daily shapes what you are becoming daily.
  • A life of convenience won’t lead to a meaningful life but rather a life of sacrifice for the welfare of others.
  • Your impact must begin from where you are and spread –Florence Nightingale began her nursing services by providing care for relations and neighbors who were ill and helping women who needed to give birth.
  • Your loved ones may be the greatest opposition to living your dreams; never give in to the opposition but go all out and live your dreams and time will prove that you were right. If you can withstand the opposition of your family or loved ones you will grow to be able to withstand the opposition in the world.
  • Give attention to details and to record keeping.
  • Love people above things and worldly fame and use things to bless people and your fame to influence more people even as you give of yourself to becoming a blessing.
  • Never let the praises of people get into your head to develop a swelled head but rather recognize and share the credit with those who helped you in your course or to succeed and develop a swelled heart to give more of yourself.
  • The courageous soul has discovered what to live for and stands for; he is not afraid to die for what he lives for and stands for.
  • Never retire from life but get re-fired with a new dream; with another challenging task. Florence Nightingale did as she pushed for reforms in India till her death at age 90.

“I stand at the altar of the murdered men, and while I live, I fight their cause.”

  • Florence Nightingale.

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