Welcome to the Year of the Nurse

Author(s): Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN

A time to recognize and highlight our impact

Happy 2020! It’s the start of another year, and maybe you’ve already made a few resolutions. But even if you’ve decided to take a pass on resolutions this year, I’d like you to consider making this commitment: Celebrate the Year of the Nurse with the American Nurses Association (ANA) and your national and global colleagues. This is a unique opportunity to share who we are, what we do, and the many ways we can and do lead on healthcare and other issues important to the public’s well-being.  

Let me tell you briefly about the significance of 2020. It marks Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. And the World Health Assembly designated it as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in her honor and to showcase the many ways nurses contribute to the health of all—individual patients and entire nations. This yearlong celebration is an extension of a global initiative called Nursing Now (Nursing Now USA is its arm in this country) and is focused on raising nurses’ status and ensuring a strong and continued investment in the nursing workforce. The World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses are leading this global campaign.

Most of you are aware that the public has consistently rated nurses as the most trusted professionals in the annual Gallup poll for many years. And you have interacted with patients, families, or community members who have expressed their appreciation for your care, advocacy, and ability to make complex healthcare information understandable. That recognition is wonderful and humbling at the same time. Still, consumers don’t necessarily know the full extent of nursing’s scope and the varied roles we have outside of acute care.

So beyond joining us in the celebratory and professional development activities planned by the ANA Enterprise and others in conjunction with the Year of the Nurse, I encourage you to take every opportunity possible to share your stories about our profession and the differences we make. Let the public know what it means to be a nurse educator, a researcher, or a nurse who works in public health, hospice care, primary care, cardiac rehab, or the operating room. Talk about your experience in the military, service on a corporate board, political advocacy, and the innovative product or process you created to improve patient care. The truth is, nurses are everywhere and we’re integral members of every community. How would our communities be healthy if not for nurses?

Your outreach this year also is critical to bringing in the next generation of nurses and increasing our workforce diversity. This is a particularly important opportunity for nurses from underrepresented backgrounds, including ethnic minorities and men. I encourage you to visit traditional and nontraditional community settings to talk about our remarkable profession.

Another key part of the Nursing Now and Nursing Now USA campaign is the Nightingale Challenge, which encourages employers around the world to provide leadership and professional development training to young nurses.

As this new year gets under way, I’ve been thinking about the many nurses who have made it into our history and nursing education books, as well as all of you who have great expertise and compassion but remain anonymous. This Year of the Nurse—your Year of the Nurse—is an unprecedented opportunity for all of you to shine and take a bow.

Stay tuned for more information about how the ANA Enterprise will be engaging nurses, consumers, and thought leaders in activities aimed at promoting nursing excellence, leadership, and innovation. And get ready to celebrate in May the first-ever Nurses Month.

 

 

 

– Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, President, American Nurses Association

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