Celebrate All Nurses This Week and All Year!

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Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. It was first observed in 1954, marking the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s notable nursing service during the Crimean War.  She was born on May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy so May 12, 2020 marks her 200th birthday.  She is known as the “Lady with the Lamp” as she walked the hospital wards at night with a lantern to check on her patients.  Florence Nightingale not only provided care and comfort for British soldiers during the Crimean War – she helped revolutionize medicine with her no-nonsense approach to hygiene, sanitation and patient care.  Nursing, under her guidance, became a valued profession. (For the 17th year in a row, nurses top Gallup’s poll of most trusted profession in 2019. The annual poll of Americans found that 84 percent of respondents rated the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as high or very high. Medical doctors were ranked second at 67 percent and pharmacists third at 66 percent.)  She pioneered public health as well as formal nurse training programs.  She was also a statistician, providing data that showed 10 times as many soldiers died from disease as did wounds suffered in combat.  She was a staunch advocate of what we know of now as hand hygiene and its effectiveness in controlling infection.  Florence died in 1910 at the age of 90.  She made the world a better place to live.

The WHO (World Health Organization) has also designated 2020 as the international year of the nurse and midwife in recognition of the contributions they make and the risks associated with nursing shortages.  WHO estimates that 9 million more nurses and midwives are needed to achieve universal health coverage by 2030 – that’s a short 10 years from now.

How fitting is it that both celebrations fall during 2020!!  The world is definitely at war just as Florence Nightingale went to war back in 1854 to provide care for the wounded soldiers but also to wage war against the unsanitary conditions that were breeding grounds for infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, typhus and dysentery. Nurses in all setting today are waging war and protecting their charges from COVID-19.  Nurses continuously work to prevent and mitigate infections today and will continue to do so.

Our world needs nurses now and in the future.  Join us in celebrating all nurses in all settings.  Sending virtual hugs to you all!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for everything you do each and every day of every year!