Along with playing a vital role in hospitals in taking care for medical well being of patients, nurses also take care of social needs of underprivileged people across the world. With the lack of certified and trained people, the existing challenges nursing is facing today are current social structures and need to innovate on treatment of health needs of patients.
Be it the risk of disease spreading in poor due to drinking water or continuous HIV crisis across the world along with emerging urbanization in overpopulated world, there are nurses who are looking to change the society for their betterment.
The history of nursing also has amazing twists and turns. In the medical community, they are often relegated to later position. But many nurses have emerged as the game changers and impacted history. These nurses brought changes for the better and made history.
10. Claire Bertschinger
Unlike other nurses listed here, Claire Bertschinger has not done too much. She provided her nursing services in all the war zones in the world by using her legal status as a dual citizen of Switzerland and the UK. Her work played a vital role to change the world. She was providing aid to the starving in 1984 in Ethiopia.
She was responsible to pick few of the children among thousands to the feeding center. She was quite anxious to decide who starved and who ate. She had an interview to the crew in BBC News which caught attention to Bob Geldof, a singer and songwriter.
9. Margaret Sanger
She was quite a dangerous woman. She chose the warpath by considering that 18 pregnancies of her mother led to the early death of a woman. She gave public lectures where any detail on reproductive health was declared obscene by the Comstock Law.
She published magazines and circulars, smuggled diaphragms across the nation, and offered care to women. For the criminal spree, she was arrested in 1916.
8. Mary Breckinridge
She had very different point of view on the reproductive health of woman than Margaret. When serving in WWI for the American Expeditionary Force as a nurse, she met European midwives. She observed that the approach of these nurses to reproductive health could cater to the women’s need in the remotest parts of the US.
She started providing childbirth and prenatal care to women across the most rural areas of the Appalachians so patients can pay as much they could in any way they could, even trade or chickens.
7. Mary Eliza Mahoney
She won’t take no for any answer. In the post Civil War era, a black woman in the US served children and women at the New England Hospital for over 15 years before joining the nursing school. Graduated in the year 1905, she started her career as a reputed and popular private care nurse.
She has been recognized to allow black nurses to get formal training, access the Howard Orphan Asylum, and join the American Nurses Association. She was among the first Boston women who registered for voting in the year 1920.
6. Lillian Wald
She was quite scared of the treatment procedures on poor immigrants. In 1893, she was called to save a woman. A doctor refused to provide treatment because she was not able to afford it. She founded “Public Health Nurses”, the first organization in Lower East Side of Manhattan.
These health nurses offered subsidized healthcare to destitute, immigrants, and anyone who cannot afford healthcare. The Henry Street Settlement was her organization which keeps on working till date.
5. Mary Jane Seacole
The Florence Nightingale’s contemporary, Mary Jane Seacole also provided aid during the Crimean War to the British soldiers. Creole who was born in Jamaica learned nursing as an apprentice to her mother and used traditional Caribbean and African medicines along modern knowhow of items like contagion theory.
She practiced across the world and engaged in new age scientific enquiry to enhance her skills and knowledge. When she tried to provide aid, she was turned away in the Crimean War by the government. Then she used her funds visit Crimea and built her recovery home for the officials. Her work has been recognized highly by Florence.
4. Dorothea Dix
She hated the way the people have been treated with mental sickness. She was basically a teacher and became mental healthcare student where mental care locked them in the basement.
She conducted surveys across the state on how mentally ill people were treated in the east of the US and sent reports to state legislatures. She was rewarded for her efforts in 1845 when New Jersey was the first of several states that invested in institution for housing and cure of mentally ill.
3. Clara Barton
She is another popular figure in nursing history. She started nursing when she was 10 after injuries of her older brother which needed immediate care. She took up the job when Civil War was started in US which were held traditionally by men. She started her nursing career and worked on the front line of battle. In a battle, a bullet torn her dress but skipped and killed the man who was being treated. She also created first Red Cross branch in the US.
2. Florence Nightingale
Clara Barton was appointed for Americans and Florence was for British. She was a traveler and a nurse who traveled at the Crimea with women volunteers to offer care for wounded soldiers. She was worried with the conditions in battlefield and lobbied for creating the first hospitals in modern field and conducted regulations to cover sanitary care and conditions and reduced fatalities to wounded soldiers from up to 40% to 2%.
1. Mother Teresa
Born in 1910 as Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Ottoman Empire, Mother Teresa was the prominent figure of care for the most downtrodden and oppressed in India. She took the habit of traditional nun of by wearing a plain white sari and organized dedicated group of nun nurses engaged in offering healthcare at the slums in Calcutta.
The ‘untouchable’ lepers were one of her first priorities because no one else ever dared to treat them. Despite serving under the sponsorship of Catholic Church, she provided the care which was uniquely non-sectarian. The nuns were known to read the Quran for the Muslim sufferers and delivered water to the dying Hindus from the Sacred Ganges. Today, over 4500 nuns of her organization are working in over 133 countries to provide non-denominational, compassionate care to the needy that are ignored by the rest of the world. She was one of the few legendary nurses who created history.