2020 has been designated the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization. For this very special year, celebrations for how and what nurses contribute to healthcare will not be saved for just 1 week in May. In 2020, we celebrate the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale and it is the perfect time to reflect on the contributions that she made to the nursing profession and to all those who have followed her. It will be a year-long celebration of our profession.
I would expect that most every nurse, at some point in their education, learned about Florence Nightingale and the impact that she had on the formation of nursing as a profession. I am sure that in those early days, she was met with naysayers who did not understand the tremendous role that nursing would play in the healthcare system we know of today. Caring for young soldiers during the Crimean War and founding a nursing school to educate and empower young woman during a time when women did not become working professionals helped begin to establish nursing as a profession. And so it began ... nursing began to take its place in society. The relevance of nursing in healthcare began to be recognized.
Over time, things changed. As in anything in life, there were ups and downs for our profession. The days of having your parent's friends say “You must be so proud that your daughter is a nurse” were lost to other, sometimes more esteemed professions such as law or medicine. However, in recent years nursing as a profession once again is making an impression on the world due to the world getting to know what nurses do every day. Johnson & Johnson helped advance the impression of nurses and the profession in the very public messages that they created through the Campaign for Nursing. Short snippets into the day-to-day activities that nurses participate in on a daily basis across the globe allowed a view into the world of nursing. In yet another Gallup poll, nurses have continued to be named the most honest profession for the 18th straight year (nurse.org, 2020). People who once entered into another career are making career changes to nursing. The idea of helping others has not died and that is a good thing. By the year 2030, there will be need for more than nine million additional nurses worldwide (World Health Organization, 2020). This is a statistic that we all must help remedy.
Nursing is a strong, noble, proud profession. You and I are fortunate to be part of it all. Do you ever reflect on how and when did you make the decision to enter nursing and be thankful for your choice? I know I have. In recognition of what we have chosen as our life's work, we should spend 2020 making sure that we speak out loudly about our profession; engage youth who are at the crossroads of making a decision about their life's work; and continue to support the advancement of healthcare locally and globally and let nursing be the link to that success. Happy 200th Birthday Florence. Your legacy lives on in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife!
nurse.org. (2020). Nurses ranked most honest profession 18 years in a row. Retrieved January 7, 2020, from https://nurse.org/articles/nursing-ranked-most-honest-profession/
World Health Organization. (2020, January 9). Nursing and midwifery. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/nursing-and-midwifery