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The First Trained Nurses (1860)

On 9 July 1860, the Nightingale Training School and Home for Nurses near St. Thomas Hospital in London opened its doors . The institute was the first independent training school for nurses in the world, separate from the hospital. The project was funded with money the English people had donated to thank Nightingale for her work in Crimea, equivalent to some two million pounds. The aim of the school was the training of nurses, the training of a nursing staff and the training of district nurses. The minimum age for admission to the training was 23 years, and the training took one year. Annually, some 20 to 30 probationers were admitted, with a distinction between the ladies from the upper circles who had already enjoyed some education and women from the lower classes who had to make a living from nursing. All probationers wore a uniform and owed obedience to the matron. Once certified, the nurses were called “Nightingales”.

Interfering in Day-to-day Management

An old Florence Nightingale surrounded by members of staff and nurses in education.
An old Florence Nightingale surrounded by members of staff and nurses in education. Credits: Florence Nightingale Institute, Culemborg, The Netherlands

The requirements the probationers were to meet were high. Many nurses gave up the training because of the high pressure of the labour and the extremely strict regime. The number of nurses who were fired due to drunkenness, morphine abuse or misconduct was also high. For the dominant Nightingale, these problems were reason to interfere in the day-to-day management of the training until a high age. She evaluated applications, kept reports on the conduct of the probationers and regularly visited the school. She also funded probationers’ excursions to her estate and invited them to her apartment on South Street, where they never left without a present. The training model, as Nightingale had envisioned it, acquired an excellent reputation and put nursing on the map. Since 2014, the London institute is called the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery.