May 6, is National Nurses’ Day! Nurses’ Week lasts from May 6 to May 12 each year, ending on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, often considered the mother of modern nursing. Leap into Nurses’ Week by learning about another pioneer of modern nursing with The Walking Classroom!
Have your students walk, listen, and learn about Clara Barton (Complete-#94, 4-#14, STEM-#39), one of the first famous female nurses. In the past, nursing was a mostly male profession!
In the 1800s, nursing was far from the clean and caring field we know today. Especially in wartime, infirmaries were unsanitary and many patients died of preventable illness! Before English nurse Florence Nightingale’s time, nurses didn’t even have to wash their hands!
During the Crimean War, she finally had enough. Nightingale wrote to The Times, and the British Government responded, helping her construct a hospital! Florence Nightingale is remembered as “The Lady with the Lamp” for her dedicated care of her patients.
Partway across the world, the Civil War was starting in America, during which Clara Barton, a U.S. Patent Office employee, became one of the most famous nurses in American history. During the Civil War, soldiers were sorely short on medical supplies. Clara organized supply drives, and worked days on end, delivering supplies to the battlefields, often by herself!
Clara Barton and the Red Cross
When the war ended, she was pressed by her doctors to go on vacation. Instead, she founded the American chapter of the International Red Cross. For the rest of her life, Clara Barton worked to help others. Learn about her life after the war here!
After founding the American Red Cross, she expanded its services to aid for National Disasters. She even pushed for America to ratify the Geneva Conventions! Oh, and speaking of the Red Cross? The Florence Nightingale Medal has been given out by the International Red Cross to exceptional nurses and aides since 1912.
Know your Nursing!
This Nurses’ Week, why not focus on nurses’ contributions in-depth? The Clara Barton Museum has many primary and secondary sources to support a social studies or reading lesson! Or, start off with some Florence Nightingale facts from National Geographic Kids!
Florence Nightingale wasn’t just a pioneer of sanitation. She was also one of the first to use statistical data in healthcare! Learn more by starting with this article from the London Science Museum. Nightingale used diagrams and graphs to clearly convey to her audience how poor sanitation and preventable infection was killing soldiers. This no-nonsense and clear presentation worked!
Discover the history of the Red Cross through their website, starting with Clara Barton. Next, find out about the contributions of famous Red Cross nurses in history! And, learn about other timely topics; be on the lookout for more ideas in future posts.