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Department: Editor's Memo

Nurses are always here, there, and everywhere

Editor(s): Newland, Jamesetta A. PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP, FAAN

Author Information
The Nurse Practitioner: May 2020 - Volume 45 - Issue 5 - p 5
doi: 10.1097/01.NPR.0000660364.42697.92
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Jamesetta A. Newland
Jamesetta A. Newland:
Jamesetta A. Newland

Healthcare systems worldwide have been overwhelmed with the fight against COVID-19 infections during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Nurses have been on the frontlines, placing themselves at risk to care for patients at all levels of acuity and in multiple, nontraditional settings. During the peak of the infection in Italy and the country's mandated nationwide lockdown, an Italian nurse, Alessia Bonari, gave people a glimpse of what healthcare workers in her hospital were going through with a post on social media stating that she was “scared” for herself and her family, “physically exhausted,” and “psychologically tired,” but stated “I will keep curing and caring after my patients, because I am proud and in love with my job.”1

Ms. Bonari reminded those who were in a panic stressing over empty shelves in stores and hard-to-find toilet paper that everyone had a responsibility to do their part during these critical times. If that meant avoiding close contact with other people and staying home, so be it. She reminded us that not everyone has the option to work from home to limit exposure to the coronavirus. As a nurse, she was expected to report to work, wear not everyone personal protective equipment, and go without a bathroom break or something to drink for 6 hours at a time. Nurses are not strangers to long work hours and have the most frequent and consistent contact with the world's patients. The International Council of Nurses estimates there are more than 20 million nurses worldwide.2 Nursing is a profession that often dominates in any health crisis, regardless of personal risk.

Year of the Nurse and Midwife

The world has witnessed firsthand why the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. As we celebrate the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, International Nurses Day, National Nurses Month, National Nurses Day, or any other of the numerous proclamations across the world this month, remember that nurses care for patients regardless of circumstance or hardship. The nurse's pledge calls us to commit to providing the best care possible to patients entrusted to our care. On April 7th, 2020 (World Health Day), the WHO released the first State of the World's Nursing Report 2020 and the third State of the World's Midwifery 2020 Report. The reports detail how the nursing workforce will help deliver universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals, including policy recommendations, through the nurses' work in the world's communities.3

History for today

COVID-19 has also reminded us of the significance of Nightingale's proposition about cleanliness and the transmission of disease. She advocated for handwashing and general cleanliness, and the protocols she instituted in the military wards she supervised during the Crimean War became a major contributing factor in decreasing infection and mortality among the soldiers. And today, the most consistent recommendation given during the COVID-19 pandemic has been “wash your hands and wash them often.” New knowledge generated by nursing science continues to impact the quality of healthcare and patient outcomes. We can remember Nightingale and our nursing heritage, but we live in the present. Thank a nurse today. Then, look in the mirror and say again, “Thank you.”


Jamesetta A. Newland, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP, FAAN


1. Brusie C. Coronavirus: nurse's photo goes viral and her words will give you goosebumps. 2020.
2. International Council of Nurses. Nurse's Voice and Value: 2018 Annual Report. 2019. Geneva, Switzerland: Author.
3. State of the World's Nursing Report - 2020. 2020.
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