Top 10 Most Famous Nurses of All Time in The World

Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Most Famous Nurses of All Time in The World until 2017. The field of medicine is the most demanding and there is a growing need for more in the industry. No one is needed more than nurses. They are on the forefront of the medical field being able to help patients and doctors alike. They are the first on the floor and usually the last to leave. They stay with their patients, caring for them and comforting family members. It has taken many decades for nurses to push their way through the health care industry and receive not only recognition but credit for the contributions to the field of medicine. Here are the Top 10 Most Famous Nurses of All Time.

List of Top 10 Most Famous Nurses of All Time in The World until 2017

10. Helen Fairchild


Helen Fairchild’s career as a nurse may have been brief, but has echoed in the hearts of many military nurses throughout history. Helen Fairchild was born on November 21st, 1885 in Milton, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1913 with a degree in nursing. During WWI, Helen was one of sixty-four nurses from the hospital to volunteer to go overseas and care for the wounded soldiers. The nurses were sent to France; their hospital became known as the Pennsylvania Base Hospital No. 10. The 2,000 bed hospital was overrun with soldiers that had been poisoned by mustard gas. Because of the exposure to the mustard gas while on the front lines, Helen became extremely ill. She slipped into a coma and died on January 18th, 1918. Helen’s many letters described the life of military nurses and all the hardships she tried to overcome to help the lives of soldiers.

9. Virginia Avenel Henderson

Virginia Avenel Henderson, Top 10 Most Famous Nurses of All Time in The World 2017

Known as “The First Lady of Nursing”, Virginia Avenel Henderson is considered the most famous nurse of the 20th century. She was on November 30th, 1897 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her education in nursing began at the Army School of Nursing. She graduated in 1921. She continued her education at the Teacher’s College in Columbia University earning her B.S. and M.A. degrees. She defined nursing as “assisting individuals to gain independence in relation to the performance of activities contributing to health or its recovery.” This was her first step in developing and establishing the Nursing Theory. Her great strides in continuing to grow and strengthen the education of nurses have made her a pioneer in the field of nursing. Virginia’s published works on nursing are sill used in several nursing textbooks today. Her book “Principles of Nursing Care” has been translated into over twenty languages and is still used around the world today.

8. Mabel Keaton Staupers


Mabel Keaton Staupers was a leader and strong advocate for the equality of African-American Nurses. She led the battle to end racial prejudice in the nursing community. Mabel Keaton Staupers was born on February 27th, 1890 in Barbados, West Indies. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1903. In 1914, Mabel enrolled in Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing in Washington D.C., graduating in 1917. A need for nurses grew during World War II. Mabel took to action to help her fellow countrymen, but African-American nurses were not allowed in the Army Nurse Corps. She fought for the rights of nurses and founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1938. In 1945, Mabel and the other nurses won their battle and were allowed to be included in the military. With her efforts, African-American nurses were fully integrated into the American Nursing Association in 1948.

7. Ellen Dougherty


Ellen Dougherty is known as the first registered nurse in history. She was born on September 20th, 1844 at Cutter’s Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand. In 1885, Ellen became employed at the Wellington District Hospital In 1887, Ellen completed a certification in nursing; she studied anatomy and physiology as well. In 1893, she became matron of Palmerston North Hospital; a tough job considering the hospital had basic medical supplies and little money. Despite the obstacles she had to overcome with her new position; Ellen set to work. The hospital grew twice its original size under her supervision. In September 1901, New Zealand became the first country to initiate the Nurse Registration Act; allowing legal registration of nurses who had already trained; Ellen Dougherty’s name was first on the list.

6. Anna Caroline Maxwell


Known as the “American Florence Nightingale”, Anna Caroline Maxwell became the founder of the Army Nurse Corps. She was born on March 14th, 1851 in Bristol, New York. Her nursing career began at New England Hospital in 1874; there she worked as a matron. Soon after, she enrolled in the nursing training school at Boston City Hospital. She became a major influence in the nursing field during the Spanish-American War. She trained 160 nurses during this time. Anna and her nurses saved thousands of soldiers through pandemics such as typhoid, malaria and measles during the war. There were only sixty-seven lives lost under her supervision. Because of her excellent skills in nursing, sanitation, and prevention; the Army Nurse Crops was established in 1901. She died on January 2nd, 1929 and became one of the earliest women to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

5. Mary Eliza Mahoney


Mary Eliza Mahoney was born on May 7th, 1845 in Boston, Massachusetts. She worked as private-duty nurse at Boston’s New England Hospital for Women and Children. After several years of working at the hospital, she was finally accepted into the nursing program in 1878. A year later, Mary completed her nursing training; she was one of three to complete the training. Mary became the first African-American Nurse to become a registered nurse; this also led her to becoming one of the first African-American women to become a member of the American Nurses Association. As a nurse, she loved working with children. Her work took her to Long Island, New York. She served as supervisor at the Howard Orphan Asylum for Black Children. Mary also became a pioneer for women’s suffragette; in 1920, she became one of the first African-American women to cast her vote.

4. Margaret Sanger


One of eleven children, Margaret Sanger was born on September 14th, 1879 in Corning, New York. Margaret Sanger is the founder of Planned Parenthood. It was said she became active in birth control (a term she coined) because of her mother’s early death. Margaret believed that it was her mother’s multiple miscarriages as well as the birth of her eleven children that led to her death. She had seen first hand the dangers of miscarriages and multiple births and wanted to help women. She began passing out pamphlets on menstruation and birth control; this was illegal at the time. In 1916, Margaret opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. Because of this, she was arrested. In 1921, she established the American Birth Control League; this became known as Planned Parenthood. She continued her fight for birth control and women’s rights until her death on September 6th, 1966.

3. Dorothea Dix


Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on April 4th, 1802 in Hampden, Maine. Dorothea was originally a teacher. She loved teaching neglected and poor children. In March 1842, Dorothea began teaching women inmates at the East Cambridge Jail. She was appalled at how some mentally ill inmates were being treated. They were being beaten and neglected because they were not understood. Dorothea went to the American Courts and fought for the rights of the mentally ill. She built the North Carolina State Medical Society in 1849; which is known as the first center dedicated to treating and caring for the mentally ill. She took her ideals on helping the mentally ill to Europe and changed their treatments of the insane in just two years. When the Civil War broke out, Dorothea served as the superintendent of the Union Army Nurses.

2. Clara Barton


It is because of Clara Barton that we have one of the greatest disaster relief programs; she is the founder of the American Red Cross. Clara Barton was born on December 25th, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts. When she was very young, her father became ill. Clara cared for her father until his death. When the American Civil War broke out, Clara was there to help. She began bringing supplies to Union soldiers at the front lines. Soon she became a nurse. Her first battle was in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1862. She would help care for wounded soldiers right on the battlefield. This gave her the nickname “The Angel of the Battlefield.” During the Franco-Prussian War, Clara went to Europe and worked with a relief organization known as the International Red Cross. This inspired her to open and American branch; in 1881 the American Red Cross was born. Clara served as its first president until 1904.

1. Florence Nightingale


Known as the mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale has become the quintessential icon of nursing. She was born May 12th, 1820 in Florence, Italy. Even when she was young Florence knew she had been called upon to help those in need. She began caring for the ill when she was just eleven years old. Florence began training as a nurse at the Institute of St. Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt. She continued training throughout Europe including Germany and France. Her biggest influence in the nursing world came during the Crimean War. In 1854 Florence Nightingale rallied thirty-eight nurses began to help the wounded in British hospitals. These facilities were unsanitary and therefore dangerous to the wounded soldiers. Florence and her team changed all that; with better sanitary conditions, Florence saved more lives of wounded soldiers. Because of her careful watch over her patients both night and day she is known as the “The Lady with the Lamp”.

These are the Top 10 Most Famous Nurses of All Time in The World until 2017. These pioneers have grown the field of nursing to the amazing force it is today. Without a nurse’s love, care and understanding, some of us may not have been alive today. So the next time you’re at the doctor’s office or hospital, thank a nurse for their sacrifice.