Florence Nightingale Quotes on Life & Nursing

Looking for inspirational Florence Nightingale quotes about nursing and life on Everyday Power?

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820.

Tell us which Florence Nightingale quote resonated with you the most in the comment section below.

What are the benefits of reading these Florence Nightingale quotes?

She is legendary for tons of reasons—including:

  • improving conditions at a British base hospital (thus reducing the death count significantly)
  • sparking worldwide healthcare reform through her writings
  • establishing St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses.

When Florence initially told her parents, Frances Nightingale, and William Shore Nightingale, that she wanted to be a nurse, they forbade her to pursue nursing.

Especially because they were wealthy and wanted her to marry a rich man, not pursue a job that, in the Victorian Era, which was viewed as lowly.

Despite her parents’ angry objections, she enrolled at the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Filedner in Kaiserswerth, Germany as a nursing student in 1844.

During the Crimean War, Nightingale worked constantly at a British base hospital, earning her the nicknames “the Angel of the Crimea” and “the Lady with the Lamp” (because she made nighttime rounds to tend to patients while carrying a lamp).

Using her experiences in Crimea, she wrote an 830-page report on proposed reforms for military hospitals with poor conditions.

Upon coming back home, she was treated as a hero, and the Queen gave her an engraved broach, now known as the Nightingale Jewel, along with $250,000.

She used the money to fund a hospital and a nurse training school.

To this day, she’s still revered as a hero, and that’s why she’s inspirational.

She overcame everything life threw at her—from her parents’ disapproval to the terrible conditions of the war hospitals, and returned with grace, charity, and hospitality.

Florence Nightingale quotes on Life, Communication, and Nursing

1. “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about fear

2. “Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift-there is nothing small about it.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about life

3. “To understand God’s thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about statistics

4. “There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about pain

5. “Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about courage

6. “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about feelings

7. “She said the object and color in the materials around us actually have a physical effect on us, on how we feel.” – Florence Nightingale

thoughtful Florence Nightingale Quotes

8. “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about progress

9. “I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes about success

10. “Everything is sketchy. The world does nothing but sketch.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Quotes and sayings

Florence Nightingale quotes on Life

11. “So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.” – Florence Nightingale

12. “The world is put back by the death of every one who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.” – Florence Nightingale

13. “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” – Florence Nightingale

14. “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head (not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but) how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?” – Florence Nightingale

Nurse quotes by Florence Nightingale

15. “What cruel mistakes are sometimes made by benevolent men and women in matters of business about which they can know nothing and think they know a great deal.” – Florence Nightingale

16. “No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – ‘devoted and obedient’. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale quotes on nursing

17. “Instead of wishing to see more doctors made by women joining what there are, I wish to see as few doctors, either male or female, as possible. For, mark you, the women have made no improvement they have only tried to be ”men” and they have only succeeded in being third-rate men.” – Florence Nightingale

18. “What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine. They are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization and disorder on the part of the inferior… jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.” – Florence Nightingale

19. “The craving for ‘the return of the day’, which the sick so constantly evince, is generally nothing but the desire for light.” – Florence Nightingale

20. “The amount of relief and comfort experienced by the sick after the skin has been carefully washed and dried, is one of the commonest observations made at a sickbed.” – Florence Nightingale

21. “Women should have the true nurse calling, the good of the sick first the second only the consideration of what is their ‘place’ to do – and that women who want for a housemaid to do this or the charwomen to do that, when the patient is suffering, have not the making of a nurse in them.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale quotes on ethics

22. “By mortifying vanity we do ourselves no good. It is the want of interest in our life which produces it; by filling up that want of interest in our life we can alone remedy it.” – Florence Nightingale

23. “In it and in the other prayers of the Mystics there is scarcely a petition. There is never a word of the theory that God’s dealings with us are to show His “power”; still less of the theory.” – Florence Nightingale

24. “That “of His own good pleasure” He has ” predestined” any souls to eternal damnation.”” – Florence Nightingale

25. “It is very well to say “be prudent, be careful, try to know each other.” But how are you to know each other?” – Florence Nightingale

26. “That Religion is not devotion, but work and suffering for the love of God; this is the true doctrine of Mystics.” – Florence Nightingale

27. “There is a physical, not moral, impossibility of supplying the wants of the intellect in the state of civilisation at which we have arrived.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale quotes on communication

28. “Women dream till they have no longer the strength to dream; those dreams against which they so struggle, so honestly, vigorously, and conscientiously, and so in vain, yet which are there.” – Florence Nightingale

29. “Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion. Remember he is face to face with his enemy all the time.” – Florence Nightingale

30. “For it may safely be said, not that the habit of ready and correct observation will by itself make us useful nurses, but that without it we shall be useless with all our devotion.” – Florence Nightingale

31. “For the sick it is important to have the best.” – Florence Nightingale

32. “Hospitals are only an intermediate stage of civilization, never intended … to take in the whole sick population. May we hope that the day will come … when every poor sick person will have the opportunity of a share in a district sick-nurse at home.” – Florence Nightingale

33. “It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick that, second only to their need of fresh air, is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room and that it is not only light but direct sunlight they want.” – Florence Nightingale

34. “The first possibility of rural cleanliness lies in water supply.” – Florence Nightingale

More Nurse quotes by Florence Nightingale

35. “People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too. Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color, and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect. Variety of form and brilliancy of color in the objects presented to patients, are actual means of recovery.” – Florence Nightingale

36. “The very elements of what constitutes good nursing are as little understood for the well as for the sick. The same laws of health, or of nursing, for they are in reality the same, obtain among the well as among the sick.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale quotes on nursing

37. “To be a fellow worker with God is the highest aspiration of which we can conceive man capable.” – Florence Nightingale

38. “Mankind must make heaven before we can “go to heaven” (as the phrase is), in this world as in any other.” – Florence Nightingale

39. “Asceticism is the trifling of an enthusiast with his power, a puerile coquetting with his selfishness or his vanity, in the absence of any sufficiently great object to employ the first or overcome the last.” – Florence Nightingale

40. “Never dispute with anybody who wishes to contradict you, says a most reasonable saint.” Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale quotes on ethics

41. “I stand at the altar of the murdered men, and, while I live, I fight their cause.” – Florence Nightingale

42. “I did not think of going to give myself a position, but for the sake of common humanity.” – Florence Nightingale

43. “If you knew how unreasonably sick people suffer from reasonable causes of distress, you would take more pains about all these things.” – Florence Nightingale

Empowering Florence Nightingale quotes

44. “I must strive to see only God in my friends, and God in my cats.”― Florence Nightingale

45. “Why do people sit up so late, or, more rarely, get up so early? Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have no time in the day to themselves.”― Florence Nightingale

46. “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on the sick or the well.”― Florence Nightingale

47. “Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it. Far the greatest things grow by God’s law out of the smallest. But to live your life, you must discipline it.― Florence Nightingale

48. “Woman has nothing but her affections,–and this makes her at once more loving and less loved.”― Florence Nightingale

49. “I have lived and slept in the same bed with English countesses and Prussian farm women… no woman has excited passions among women more than I have.”― Florence Nightingale

50. “God spoke to me and called me to His Service. What form this service was to take the voice did not say.”― Florence Nightingale

51. “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.”— Florence Nightingale

52. “The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe – how to observe – what symptoms indicate improvement – what the reverse – which are of importance – which are of none – which are the evidence of neglect – and of what kind of neglect.”― Florence Nightingale

53. “Remember my name – you’ll be screaming it later.”— Florence Nightingale

You might also like these Clara Barton quotes from the angel of the battlefield.

Florence Nightingale quotes to inspire you

54. “Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses….we must be learning all of our lives.” – Florence Nightingale

55. “Nursing is a progressive art such that to stand still is to go backward.” – Florence Nightingale

56. “Starting a job and working hard is how to be successful.” – Florence Nightingale

57. “Our first journey is to find that special place for us.” – Florence Nightingale

58. “A human being does not cease to exist at death. It is change, not destruction, which takes place.” – Florence Nightingale

59. “Nursing is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.” – Florence Nightingale

60. “When shall we see a life full of steady enthusiasm, walking straight to its aim, flying home, as that bird is now, against the wind – with the calmness and the confidence of one who knows the laws of God and can apply them?” – Florence Nightingale

61. “I can expect no sympathy or help from my family.” – Florence Nightingale

62. “There are no specific diseases only specific disease conditions.” – Florence Nightingale

63. “I use the word nursing for want of a better.” – Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale quotes about the power of nursing

64. “Ignite the mind’s spark to rise the sun in you.” — Florence Nightingale

65. “A hundred struggle and drown in the breakers. One discovers the new world. Rather, ten times, die in the surf heralding the way to a new world, then stand idly on the shore.” — Florence Nightingale

66. “You ask me why I do not write something…. I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.” — Florence Nightingale

67. “A nurse is to maintain the air within the room as fresh as the air without, without lowering the temperature.” — Florence Nightingale

68. “Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.” — Florence Nightingale

69. “If a nurse declines to do these kinds of things for her patient, “because it is not her business,” I should say that nursing was not her calling.” — Florence Nightingale

70. “For us who Nurse, our Nursing is a thing, which, unless in it we are making progress every year, every month, every week, take my word for it we are going back. The more experience we gain, the more progress we can make.” — Florence Nightingale

71.“I have seen surgical “sisters,” women whose hands were worth to them two or three guineas a-week, down upon their knees scouring a room or hut, because they thought it otherwise not fit for their patients to go into.” — Florence Nightingale

72. “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit?” — Florence Nightingale

73. “I use the word nursing for want of a better. It has been limited to signify little more than the administration of medicines and the application of poultices. It ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet-all at the least expense of vital power to the patient.” — Florence Nightingale

More Florence Nightingale quotes

74. “The most important practical lesson than can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe.” — Florence Nightingale

75. “I stand at the altar of murdered men, and, while I live, I fight their cause.” — Florence Nightingale

76. “Never give nor take an excuse.” — Florence Nightingale

77. “May we hope that the day will come when every poor, sick person will have the opportunity of a share in a district sick-nurse at home.” — Florence Nightingale

78. “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel abuse of care which can be inflicted on either the sick or the well.” — Florence Nightingale

79. “It is often thought that medicine is the curative process. It is no such thing; medicine is the surgery of functions as surgery proper is that of limbs and organs.” — Florence Nightingale

80. “Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed. The night is given us to take a breath, to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening.” – Florence Nightingale

81. “The same laws of health, or of nursing, for they are in reality the same, are obtained among the well and among the sick. The account he gives of nurses beats everything that even I know of.” — Florence Nightingale

82. “Nature alone cures. What nursing has to do is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” — Florence Nightingale

83. “Never to allow a patient to be woken, intentionally or accidentally, is a sine qua non of all good nursing.” — Florence Nightingale

Which Florence Nightingale quotes are your favorite?

It’s hard to imagine what nursing would be like without Florence Nightingale’s influence.

Florence was a woman ahead of her time who made noteworthy contributions to life as we know it.

Tell us your favorite Florence Nightingale quote in the comment section below.

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Norbert Juma, Lead Editor

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