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Is Florence Nightingale Obsolete?

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth as she is considered the founder of modern nursing.

In some parts of the world however, Florence Nightingale is no longer considered as a role model for modern nurses.

In 1999, a public sector union in the United Kingdom (UK), UNISON, voted unanimously to ask the International Council of Nurses to move the commemoration of International Nurses' Day from Florence Nightingale's birthday to another date.

They contend that Florence Nightingale, known for her work during the Crimean War, was caucasian, came from a middle class family, and Protestant. They also claim that she set up her hospital with family money and was said to have a hierarchical approach to nursing making her legacy inconsistent with the trans-cultural nature of modern nursing.

Ms. Wendy Wheeler, a delegate at the UNISON's annual health conference in Brighton, claims that Florence Nightingale believed nurses should be subordinate to doctors, was against registration of nurses, opposed the three-year formal training of nurses, did not see mental health as a field for nurses and had "questionable success" at her hospital in the Crimea.

UNISON proposed to transfer International Nurses' Day from May 12 to May 21 which falls on the birthday of Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845). Elizabeth Fry founded the Institution of Nursing Sisters years before Nightingale setup her own nursing team and is also known for her work with female prisoners.

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