Modern Day Nurses Exemplify Historical Heroes of Yore: Nod to “The Lady with the Lamp” and Nurses Galore!

Author: Debra Hagberg MT (ASCP), CIC

Categories: General Infection Prevention May 5, 2020
PDI Nurses Week Blog Post - May 2020

As the world deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation’s healthcare workers are fighting the battle of their lives trying to save our lives. It is important to pause and celebrate a group of healthcare professionals during this week in May (6th-12th), traditionally National Nurses Week which has been expanded to the entire month this year. This group of individuals including nurses, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse managers have embodied the courage and bravery as defined by “The Lady with the Lamp”, Florence Nightingale.

In 1853, Florence Nightingale pushed away her privileged life in London society to focus on improving the nursing care, efficiency, and working conditions at the London Institution for Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances, working as the superintendent.[1] Florence felt her calling was to serve God and humankind, and saw nursing as the means to reduce human suffering. She had a strong desire to train nurses to improve skills and expertise and was considering an opportunity as the superintendent of nurses at King’s College Hospital before her life changed.[2]

Just like our nurses today, Florence found herself going into battle, leading a group of nurses into military hospitals during the Crimean War (1854). Though Florence did not have a novel coronavirus to fight, she found herself in the throes of inadequate supplies, overcrowded chaotic conditions, and people dying. Sound familiar? In order to provide nursing care, Florence enlisted the help of soldier’s wives to help with laundering and negotiated funds provided by the London Times to purchase supplies/equipment.[3] Most importantly, she established standards of nursing care: bathing, ensuring nutrition, and addressing psychological needs. These necessities, along with advanced treatments, are still deployed by modern day nurses today. Though Florence and her nurses did not have technology at their fingertips, they did assist in writing letters to loved ones and lifted the spirits of the infirmed with education and recreational activities.

And today, our hearts have been overwhelmed upon seeing similar acts of kindness: nurses standing in for loved ones that cannot be in the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions or nurses taking time to enable patients to Facetime with their family at home. And sometimes, nurses singing or praying for ones not so fortunate. Just as Florence wandered the wards at night with her lamp in hand, today’s nurses provide comfort, strength and humanity to those that are sick throughout the day and night.

Through her accomplishments in basic nursing care and reductions on mortality rate, Florence gained the respect of the medical community returning to her home as a hero.[4]

This year more than ever, the nation has seen the unwavering strength, the courage, and the humanity exhibited by the nursing profession. A wonderful tribute and nod to “The Lady with the Lamp”. Nurses are our everyday heroes. Wishing you all happy National Nurses Month!






Debra Hagberg MT (ASCP), CIC
debra Director, Clinical Affairs, PDI


Debra (Deb) started her career in the microbiology laboratory. Though loving the daily reading of cultures, her passion for infection prevention surfaced when an opportunity to become an Infection Preventionist (IP) opened up in her organization. Deb’s strong background in microbiology and infectious disease made the transition to an IP role easier.

After several years in healthcare, Deb took a role as PDI’s first Clinical Science Liaison (CSL), providing clinical expertise to customers in the Northeast region of the country.

Learn more about Debra here.



Phone: 508-612-3032


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