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06 May

National Nurses Week - Celebrating nurses of today and yesterday

National Nurses Week - Celebrating nurses of today and yesterday

Every day patients and their families are touched and saved by the more than three million nurses across the nation. Though nurses don’t take on this selfless profession for the recognition, it is nice to hear a thank you every now and then.

In honor of National Nurses week, we wish to extend the utmost gratitude to all nurses on behalf of the An Apple A Day team and the Fashion Seal Healthcare® brand.

As we celebrate the nurses of today, let’s take a look back at the 10 most famous nurses in history as noted by HowStuffWorks.

1.    Florence Nightingale – Possibly the most well-known nurse in history, Florence Nightingale is regarded as the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers and set about improving hospital hygiene in an effort to reduce infections.

In 1860, she founded the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, where nursing students would learn not only about patient care, but also about the importance of good hygiene and sanitary conditions in medicine. The school's curriculum laid the groundwork for modern nursing education. The last day of National Nurses ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

2.    Clarissa "Clara" Barton – After the Civil War, Clara Barton led efforts to locate missing veterans, and continued to advocate for soldiers and veterans for years. In 1881, at age 60, she founded the American Red Cross, based on the International Red Cross relief organization, and led the group until 1904.

3.    Dorothea Dix – Dorothea Dix is known for her work as a humanitarian and social reformer who spent more than 40 years lobbying for better care and treatment of those with mental illness, as well as better, more humane prison conditions. Dix was instrumental in founding 32 institutions specifically for treating mental health conditions, lobbied for state-supported mental hospitals, and campaigned for the rights of the mentally ill and inmates worldwide.

4.    Margaret Sanger – In Brooklyn in 1916, Sanger opened the first American birth control clinic -- illegally -- which gave women education on reproductive health and information on using contraceptive devices. A few years later, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League -- which in 1942 would become the Planned Parenthood Foundation. Sanger was also instrumental in leading the development of oral contraception, also known as "the pill." The first oral contraceptive gained FDA approval in 1960, just six years before Sanger's death.

5.    Lillian Wald - As a public health pioneer, Lillian Wald was instrumental in getting nurses placed in American public schools and also helped establish the National Organization of Public Health Nursing, the National Women's Trade Union League to advocate for working women, and the Children's Bureau to help end child labor.

6.    Florence Guinness Blake - Florence Guinness Blake was a 20th century pioneer in nursing education, advocating for better training for nurses. Blake's contributions to medical training and education helped elevate caring for patients to a professional level.

7.    Walt Whitman – Regarded as one of America’s most famous poets, Walt Whitman also served as a volunteer nurse for three years during the Civil War. Whitman never had a formal nursing education, but was motivated to begin visiting wounded soldiers at military hospitals around Washington, D.C. Whitman himself estimated he visited more than 100,000 wounded soldiers (both Union and Confederate) during 600 hospital visits.

8.    Martha Jane "Calamity Jane" Cannary - Martha Jane Cannary, better known as "Calamity Jane", was an American frontierswoman, gun-slinger, scout for the Army and friend to legendary gunfighter James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok. In 1878, while working as a rider for the Pony Express, Cannary volunteered to care for eight quarantined men when small pox broke out in her town. Nursing them with Epsom salts and cream of tartar, five of the suffering men recovered under her care.

9.    Mary Ezra Mahoney - Mary Ezra Mahoney was the first African-American woman to complete nursing training and become a registered nurse. In the face of discrimination against black nurses, Mahoney advocated for the rights of all black nurses and went on to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908.

10.    Mary Breckinridge - In 1925, Mary Breckinridge founded the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS), a team of nurse-midwives devoted to bringing general and maternal care (including prenatal and postnatal care) to people living in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. The FNS nurses traveled by horseback to deliver babies and provide family care, accepting little money (or barter) as payment.

The relentless efforts of these famous nurses molded the nursing profession into what it is today. To learn more about their contributions to nursing, visit HowStuffWorks.

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