Nurses, this is your year! The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, and we’re proud to join their efforts to celebrate all of the hard-working nurses throughout North America and around the world.
According to the WHO’s official Year of the Nurse statement, nurses and midwives “play a vital role in providing health services” globally: “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.”
The idea is to emphasize the role of nurses, who serve on the front lines of patient care in facilities of all types — from hospitals, clinics and health centers to schools, rehab centers and correctional facilities. After all, nurses are often “the first and only point of care in their communities,” as the WHO points out.
In short, nurses are shining examples of — and perhaps the most underappreciated providers of — healthcare in the United States and globally. And we’re proud to join the WHO, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the International Council of Nurses (ICN), Nursing Now and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in honoring them this and every year.
Why 2020 Is Year of the Nurse — and What It Means
So, why was 2020 chosen as the Year of the Nurse? The WHO offers a number of good reasons. First of all, it’s the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who pioneered modern nursing during the bloody wars of the 19th Century. And, as Deborah Swanson explains at DailyNurse, Nightingale also helped begin formal nursing education and founded “the first scientifically based nursing school.”
2020 also marks the conclusion of the Nursing Now campaign, a three-year effort between the WHO and the ICN to gain a larger role for nurses in global health policy while encouraging larger investment in nursing as a career, among other goals. You can learn more about the Nursing Now campaign here.
Perhaps most of all, the Year of the Nurse also aims to draw attention to the troubling shortage of nurses experienced in so many communities around the world. As we’ve noted here at the CareerStaff blog, large sections of the United States are unable to staff enough nurses to meet local demand — a dilemma we’re actively working to solve by staffing nationwide travel nurse assignments.
How the Year of the Nurse Brings Global Lessons to Local Care
As the WHO points out, the shortage of skilled nurses in underserved communities is even more dramatic in the world’s most underdeveloped nations. From training new nurses in Nigeria and Poland to assisting childbirth in the Philippines and the remote reaches of Northern Canada, the WHO’s Year of the Nurse campaign has a truly global scope.
But make no mistake, this global perspective is important at a local level, too. In a powerful example of this point, Washington State University (WSU) nurse practitioner Pam Martin recently spoke to WSU News about how doing volunteer humanitarian work in Haiti helped her not only develop helpful skills, but also inspired her to pursue a career focused on public health.
“I learned that we really need to work collaboratively with communities so they can gain the skills to support themselves,” she said. “I want to not only treat the person sitting in front of me, but the population as a whole. In a refugee camp, for example, if you have an outbreak of disease you need to get that under control very quickly; if you have limited resources, how do you do that?”
Inspiring as they are, Martin’s words take on even greater meaning given the current outbreak of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, which is causing widespread concern over its potential strains on the healthcare system. It’s a situation that gives the Year of the Nurse an added sense of relevance and urgency — and underlines the need for great nurses everywhere across the U.S.
If you’re a nurse interested in helping facilities meet their staffing needs in the Year of the Nurse (and beyond), we can connect you with a nursing assignment in a community that needs you! You can join our roster of nursing professionals here, or check out our list of nursing jobs here.
Have a happy Year of the Nurse — and remember, you are appreciated!