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Be a Champion for Nursing

Larsen, Pamala D. PhD, MS, RN

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doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000260
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The World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. This year-long celebration highlights the work of nurses and midwives and advocates for increased investment in the nursing and midwife workforce. It is appropriate to have 2020 as a special year as it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820). Here is the WHO’s statement declaring the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

 Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services. These are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children, giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice, looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs. They are often the first and only point of care in their communities. Quite simply, the world will only achieve universal health coverage by recognizing the critical role they play and by investing more in the nursing and midwifery workforce. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030 (WHO, 2020).

The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife goes hand-in-hand with the Nursing Now campaign that is currently in its third and final year. Nursing Now is a global campaign involving 30 countries and is focused on improving health globally by raising the profile and status of nurses worldwide. The three priorities of the Nursing Now campaign include the following:

  • promoting innovation in research, teaching, and care delivery that has a positive impact on the public;
  • influencing and creating a public policy that promotes and protects the health of all and advocates for conditions that support safe and healthy communities; and
  • expanding nurses’ influence as a local and global leader in the delivery of care by continually seeking improvements in care (Nursing Now USA Initiative Launches, 2019).

Let us look at two of the articles about patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in this issue to see how the studies’ results address priority number one, innovation in research, teaching, and care delivery that has a positive impact on the public. As we know, PD is a neurodegenerative, movement disease that is treatable but not curable. Many individuals with PD experience movement symptoms such as bradykinesia, dystonia, facial masking, and rigidity, as well as nonmovement symptoms, such as anxiety, cognitive changes, sleep disorders, and speech and swallowing problems. All of these symptoms affect an individual’s health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Kwok, Auyeung, and Chan (2020), through a biopsychosocial lens, sought to determine how anxiety, severity of motor symptoms, and depression were associated with HRQOL. Their hypothesis was that patients with PD who experienced anxiety and depression, psychological symptoms that a number of patients with PD have, would have decreased HRQOL.

What the researchers found was that anxiety and depression were more common in patients with PD than patients with other chronic diseases, including cancer, and the impact to HRQOL was significant. This means that healthcare professionals need to use a biopsychosocial lens to provide quality care to patients with PD. Education is essential in promoting positive self-care behavior and enhancing the HRQOL of patients with PD.

In nursing, we talk a lot about adherence and why patients do not adhere to their treatment plan. There are countless studies demonstrating that lack of adherence is very common in persons with a chronic condition. We also talk a lot about exercise and the positive benefits that healthy individuals and those with a chronic condition could experience if they would adhere to an exercise program of some kind. Cleary’s (2020) study sought to find how/why persons with PD continued to attend an exercise group for years, not months or weeks. Her study looked at older adults diagnosed with PD from 1 to 28 years to identify the motivators for these persons to attend a group exercise program on a regular basis. Generally, the 18 participants in the study agreed (1) it was a challenging workout but the instructor kept changing it every time so it was not boring, (2) they gained strength, inspiration, and knowledge by doing the exercise with other people that had PD. There was the commonality that everyone in the group had PD, (3) professionals led the exercise group, not volunteers/amateurs, and (4) the program had a holistic lasting benefit. Individuals could tell the difference the program made on their life. An interesting fact about this group is the length of time some participants had been in this exercise group ranged from 2 to 8.5 years! How phenomenal is that! These are two amazing studies that tell us that patient-centered research continues to increase the quality of patient care.

As National Nurses’ Week approaches, I keep running into nurses, mostly retired, who have disparaging thoughts about the profession. The other day I was on the treadmill at the gym and struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me. He appeared to be retired, and we started talking about our careers. When I told him I was a registered nurse, his response was “well, so was my wife and now she and her nurse friends get together for coffee and talk about how the profession has changed, and ask why things aren’t like they used to be.” I was a bit taken back by our conversation and wondered, again, why don’t nurses stand up for nursing? I remember the good old days, as I’ve been an RN for many years, and let me assure you, the good old days were not that good!

How do we talk about our profession with others? Do we portray to others that we are “just a nurse”? Are we proud of our profession and demonstrate that to others? Do we share with others the excitement of the strong evidence base we are developing for our practice? Do we honor nurses and nursing? The Gallup Poll just released the results of their annual poll about who Americans trust the most. For the 18th year in a row, Americans rate the honesty and ethics of nurses the highest over individuals from 20 other professions (Reinhart, 2020). So the public is convinced that nurses are pretty darn good. So why can't we say that about ourselves?

Pamala D. Larsen, PhD, MS, RN


Rehabilitation Nursing

Loveland, CO, USA


Cleary A. S. (2020). Parkinson’s Disease: Exploring motives for long term adherence to a group exercise program. Rehabilitation Nursing, 45(3), 124–132.
Kwok J. Y. Y., Auyeung M., & Chan H. Y. L. (2020). Examining factors related to health-related quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. Rehabilitation Nursing, 45(3), 115–123.
Nursing Now USA Initiative Launches. (2019). Retrieved from
Reinhart R. J. (2020). Nurses continue to rate highest in honesty, ethics. Retrieved from
World Health Organization, (2020). Year of the nurse and the midwife 2020. Retrieved from
© 2020 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.