For the purpose of this essay, we will be deciding who contributed the most to medicine out of Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Each of the three contributors played their part in medicine. Florence Nightingale was a strong, determined young lady who knew what she wanted. Whereas, Mary Seacole was a mother figure, kind and caring. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was extremely intelligent and also determined. Out of the female contributors, there is a clear difference in their lives, has this affected their impact on medicine though? Throughout this essay, we will look at the contributor’s lives and what they did to achieve progress in medicine. This will help us determine which women contributed the most to medicine.
In the 1850s women were considered to be the weaker sex, thus, there were no women doctors. They were looked upon to be unskilled in the art of surgery. Nurses were not allowed to treat ill men and mainly cleaned hospitals. However, three women were about to change this. Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Florence Nightingale was born into a rich family in 1820. As a young woman, Florence felt that God had called her to help others. She decided she wanted to become a nurse, hearing this her parents were extremely disappointed, being a nurse in the 1850s was considered a low-class career.
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In contrast, Mary Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica her mother was a nurse and her father was a Scottish soldier. In spite of the two women’s different backgrounds, they both wanted to become a nurse and were extremely determined to get there. Our third contributor is Elizabeth Garrett Anderson another important figure in progressing medicine. Anderson was very fortunate to become the first women doctor. Anderson gained a lot of support on the way of achieving this though, her father was a strong advocate of education, and he stood by his daughter throughout her quest to become a physician.
Each of the women had different attitudes towards medicine. Mary Seacole was devoted to helping people; many soldiers for her courage, bravery and kindness loved her. In comparison, Florence Nightingale was not passionate enough to be a nurse and was not a good one. She was particularly ambitious and strong-minded. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was also ambitious she was very positive about becoming a doctor and acted to succeed in that scene, she was more like Florence Nightingale. Nightingale was a great organizer, she would clean, keep recodes of her soldier’s illnesses and prepare space for the wounded.
Seacole and Anderson were more educated in nursing. Mary Seacole’s mother was a nurse so she was always learning about medicines and especially herbal remedies. Also, she had nearly thirty years of practical experience treating cholera and typhoid fever. Anderson studied privately with a professor; she took a course in midwifery and was given a qualification by the society of apothecaries.
In 1854 the Crimean war began. This was the chance for each key individual to make a difference. Nightingale decided she wanted to go and help the soldiers; She was based at the Barrack Hospital. Seacole also wanted to help during the Crimean war but was not accepted. However, this was not going to stop her, she used all her hard-earned savings to pay for her travel expenses and went to Crimea. She opened a hotel; She cooked meals and ran a daily clinic. Even though both nurses may not have helped for the same reason they both made an impact and improved medicine.
After the Crimean war, Florence Nightingale helped tremendously. She received a grant as a token of appreciation for her hard work and bravery. The Crimean war turned Nightingale into national heroin and she turned nursing into a high-class appreciated occupation. Meanwhile, Seacole was neglected, her talents were hardly realized and her courage and medical knowledge had been ignored. Although Seacole did not stop there, her book was published in 1857 ‘The wonderful adventures of Mrs. Seacole’.
In conclusion, after looking at the evidence I have decided that each of the women made valid contributions although each was very different. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first woman doctor, which paved the way for other women to follow, during this period of time. But, it is only for this reason that she is remembered. I feel that Mary Seacole’s contribution was underestimated and undervalued then and possibly now. The fact that she was using herbal remedies some hundred and fifty years ago is quite remarkable considering the popularity of this type of practice today. And finally, Florence Nightingale, perhaps the most famous and widely acknowledge out of the three.
There are many reasons for my choice. Firstly, every major hospital proceeded to set up a training school and followed her ideas. Secondly, she made people change their opinions towards nursing. Finally, Nightingale’s notes on nursing were used all over the world; she also influenced the founder of the Red Cross. Nightingale may not have been the better nurse out of the three but she had a huge effect on Britain.
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