Famous Nurses

by Howard Gerber on September 7, 2010

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Being a nurse is one of the most stressful careers an individual can choose. The hours are long, the results are often depressing, and yet the rewards one experiences when everything does go right are tremendous. Sometimes, however, it may be difficult to remember just why you are in this profession. Let these five nurses encourage and inspire you to continue in your chosen field. 

Florence Nightingale

This is possibly the most iconic name in the world of nursing. She became a nurse to the exclusion of her wealthy upbringing and several marriage proposals because she felt nursing was her calling. This British nurse changed the way field medicine was practiced. By advocating for more sanitary conditions in the field, the death rate of soldiers decreased tremendously. Additionally, she was well respected in the field of mathematics and she championed the cause of female nurses and physicians.

Dorothea Dix

Dorothea is most famous for her intervention to help those suffering from mental illness. She saw the horrendous treatment of those who were, at that time, classified as insane, and felt she had to do something to help them. She eventually helped inspire the foundation of the first United States mental asylums.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton is probably the most famous nurse in all of American history. She began her nursing career as a child, when she helped care for her brother. During the Civil War, she worked tirelessly bringing supplies to the northern troops, and then traveled with the military to help tend to the wounded soldiers. Later she visited Europe and was so inspired by the International Red Cross that she returned to the United States to establish an organization that would be able to assist people in need during any future national crisis.

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger is famous now for helping to educate poor women about the need for birth control because of the early deaths of women she saw due to multiple pregnancies and self-induced abortions. During her day, however, many people from the government and Catholic Church were very unhappy with her advocacy. Eventually, Margaret began to promote the need for frank discussions about contraceptives in more elite circles, hoping the need for such measures would eventually reach a larger audience.

Mary Breckinridge

Mary Breckinridge was a champion for health care in rural areas. Prior to the urbanization of America, a great number of Americans lived in rural areas without access to adequate healthcare professionals. Mary opened rural clinics and created the Frontier Nursing Service to bring medical workers to areas where healthcare was scarce.

When you begin feeling like nursing is too difficult take a bit of time off and try to remember why you became a nurse. Was it because one of these women, or another nurse, inspired you? Do you like helping others? Are you fascinated by the field of medicine? Go back to that core reason and let it renew the passion for your chosen profession.

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