Today, people all over the world recognize the sacrifices and the hard work nurses are doing to care for the sick. But it wasn’t always the respected profession it is today. Up until the early 19th century, nursing was considered a mediocre job. In fact, many nurses didn’t even get paid. Fortunately, Florence Nightingale changed all these negative perceptions and pushed the nursing profession forward … like a call in the night. Here are 5 things you should know about this boss woman.

Florence’s family was against her becoming a nurse

Florence Nightingale came from an extremely wealthy family, and unlike most girls during her time, she was educated and interested in working. At the age of 16, compelled by the belief that God called on her to help those who suffered, Florence made the decision to become a nurse. Nurses of the day often worked in deplorable conditions — part of why Florence’s wealthy parents were against her decision.

Florence went to a nursing school in Germany where she learned important skills in patient-care

In 1851, Florence’s father finally changed his tune and allowed her to study nursing at a Christian school for women in Germany. There, she learned important skills in patient care, particularly the importance of hospital cleanliness. When she returned to London and took a nursing job, her employers were so impressed and she was quickly promoted to superintendent.

Florence led the team of nurses deployed in the Crimean War

When the Crimean War broke out in 1853, thousands of soldiers were admitted into military hospitals and all medical hands were on deck. In 1854, Florence was directed by the Secretary of War, Sidney Herbert, to organize a team of nurses to tend to medical needs of the fallen soldiers in Crimea. When they arrived, Florence found the Army hospital in an unimaginable state – overcrowded, filthy, and infested with rats everywhere. She worked tirelessly to improve the hospital conditions. With the help of her team, she cleaned the wards, set-up a hospital kitchen, and provided wounded soldiers with the best care.

The lady with the lamp

Florence was known for visiting the soldiers at night while they were sleeping to make sure they were comfortable, thus earning her the nickname “the lady with the lamp.”

Florence established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses

In 1860, Florence opened the Nightingale Training School for Nurses which provided excellent nurse training. Shortly after, nursing became a respectable career. The school still churns out classes of nurses every year to this day.