Florence Nightingale Medal
At the Eighth International Conference of Red Cross Societies in London in 1907, the assembled delegates decided to create a commemorative International Nightingale Medal to be awarded to those distinguished in the nursing field. Subsequently, the Florence Nightingale Medal was instituted in 1912 by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve and is awarded to nurses or nursing aides for "exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of a conflict or disaster" or "exemplary services or a creative and pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education".
It was initially set up to be awarded to six nurses annually, although the first 42 awards were only made in 1920 due to the disruption of the First World War. Among the first recipients were six American nurses: Florence Merriam Johnson, Helen Scott Hay, Linda K. Meirs, Martha M. Russell, Mary E. Gladwin, and Alma E. Foerster.
The medal was restricted to female nurses until regulation changes in 1991. Under the new regulations it is open to both women and men, and is awarded every two years to a maximum number of fifty recipients worldwide. The vesica piscis shaped medal is composed of gold and silver-gilt and bears a portrait of Florence Nightingale surrounded by the words 'Ad memoriam Florence Nightingale 1820–1910'. On the reverse, the name of the recipient and the date of the award are engraved, surrounded by the inscription 'Pro vera misericordia et cara humanitate perennis décor universalis' ('true and loving humanitarianism – a lasting general propriety'). The medal is attached to a white and red ribbon by a clasp featuring a red enamel cross encircled by a green laurel crown. Recipients are also presented with a parchment diploma of the award and, from 1927, a miniature version of the medal that could be more easily worn. The medal and a diploma are usually presented by the Head of State at a ceremony in their own country, which is required to have "a formal character, in keeping with the founders' wishes".
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- Nelson McDowell Shepard, "The Florence Nightingale Medal" Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine (November 1921): 646–647.
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- "Florence Nightingale Medal: Honoring exceptional nurses and nursing aides – 2019 recipients". icrc.org. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Council of Nurses. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
- "Kiwi Red Cross nurse awarded highest international nursing award". TVNZ. Retrieved 15 May 2019.