As I write this, I've just returned from the American Academy of Nursing meeting in Washington, DC. The focus, as always, was on how nurses can influence and transform health policies to create better access and care for all. This meeting of nursing's policy leaders and thinkers inspires one, as Linda Burnes Bolton suggested in one session, to “find your what”—to figure out what you want to accomplish and where you want to put your influence. And now more than ever, nursing is in a position of influence.
First, there's the Nursing Now campaign (www.nursingnow.org), which was launched in 2018 by the U.K. charity Burdett Trust for Nursing in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Council of Nurses. Its purpose is to highlight that, in addition to their critical role in improving health, “empowering nurses would contribute to improved gender equality and stronger economies.” The global campaign is funding research, collaborating with organizations and governments on leadership programs, and working to disseminate evidence of nursing's work. Its Nightingale Challenge (www.nursingnow.org/nightingale) specifically calls on employers and organizations to increase leadership education opportunities for nurses. Nursing Now USA was launched in April as the national arm of the global campaign and is being led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, the University of Washington School of Nursing, and the U.S. Public Health Service Chief Nurse Officer. The campaign will continue through 2020 and culminate in the year-end celebrations to mark Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday in May.
At the 2019 World Health Assembly, the WHO declared 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” a move to reinforce the essential roles of these clinicians in improving care around the world and achieving the sustainable development goals. The WHO, in collaboration with other nursing and midwifery groups, will release major reports on the status of each profession in May, in time for the 73rd World Health Assembly. And the WHO and Nursing Now partners are also collaborating on the celebrations of Nightingale's birthday, including commemoration services at Westminster Abbey in May, walks “in her footsteps,” and a conference in October.
And here in the United States, work is well underway on the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report. The first report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, spoke to the need for nurses' roles, education, and practice to change to meet changing health care needs and delivery. That report spurred changes, such as the removal of barriers to NP practice, that have led to better access to care for more people, created more opportunities for higher education for nurses, prepared more nurses to assume leadership roles, and promoted greater diversity in nursing. This next report builds on these gains and will make recommendations on how nursing will contribute “to create a culture of health, reduce health disparities, and improve the health and well-being of the U.S. population in the 21st century.” The report will be released in October.
What does all this mean at the point of care, where nurses across all settings are paddling as fast as they can to meet their patients' needs? Hopefully, it will encourage nurse leaders in organizations to check their mission, values, and policies to ensure they align with professional practice goals—do their organizations support nurses' work? How can they influence their boards to do so? Does the electronic health record support nursing practice or make it more difficult? And, as nurses, do we practice with intent, asking the right questions and providing the right care for this patient at this time? Are we doing what we should be doing, and if not, how can we change that?
In this coming year of focus on nursing, AJN will highlight nurses' work each month. We'll do that in articles, blog posts, and photographs, and we invite all nurses in all settings to send us photos of nurses at work and stories of exemplars of nursing. We'll publish them, use them on our cover, or include them in an online photo gallery. See the “Submit Your Photos” box on www.ajnonline.com for details.
As we head into this Year of the Nurse and Midwife, I urge all of us to take Linda Burnes Bolton's challenge to find our “what” and make sure we're on the right path for our patients and for our careers.