For every one of us, there are times when nurses come into our lives and make such a positive difference that we remember them forever. Nurses are with us through our most challenging times. They may or may not be able to save our lives, but they always provide comfort and care, and hope.
Nurses can even inspire our career choices. As can life journeys.
Professor Cath Rogers, Dean of Health and Education at Think Education, says a significant family loss led to her decision.
“When I was 15, I witnessed my father’s illness and subsequent death, and was inspired by the domiciliary nurses who visited each day to look after Dad.”
“They always took the time to support my mum, and to ask us kids how we were going. They were my inspiration to start my own nursing career two years later,” she says.
Cath’s nursing graduation in 1981
“Becoming a nurse has been the best decision I ever made, as well as one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Nursing is tough and demanding, whether you nurse in a clinical setting, in the community, in an educational or research environment, or in administration. Yet nursing is equally a rewarding, human-centred and passionate profession.”
Professor Rogers says the work of nurses never ceases to move her.
“Very recently, I sat with my older brother through the last week of his life, supported by a team of talented and empathic nurses who provided the best palliative care anyone could hope for.”
“They were there for my brother, and for me. I was inspired all over again.”
Cath with the nursing group she trained with at their 40th anniversary
Nurses are getting us through this strange time
In 2020, we’re putting our trust in nurses to get us through the frightening and tragic COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone who can is staying home, closing our doors to protect ourselves and others, and saying to nurses, ‘We have confidence in your skills, we know you will do everything possible to keep us safe and well, and we admire you beyond measure.’
In living history, there hasn’t been a time when nurses and other health professions have been so respected and so valued. They are making a difference on the global stage and demonstrating how essential their roles are, and in so doing, putting their own health on the line. How appropriate that 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. When the World Health Organisation first declared that this year would recognise the work of nurses and midwives, no one could have imagined how relevant this decision would be. But Professor Rogers makes another pertinent point about the situation in 2020. It is about how and when society takes notice of important work.
“Sometimes, international declarations can pass unnoticed,” Professor Rogers says.
“In this instance, the declaration by the WHO preceded the recognition which followed the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, This is a good thing. It should not take a crisis to highlight the fundamental and essential role that nurses play. Nurses do not just save lives. The work that nurses do changes lives.”
International Nurses Day
The highlight of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife is 12 May, International Nurses Day. Celebrated annually on the date of Florence Nightingale’s birth, this day gives us all the opportunity to recognise the invaluable contribution nurses make to our society.
This year is particularly special – it’s the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and the 120th anniversary of the International Council of Nurses (ICN); it’s also the year when people around the world are walking out onto their balconies and driveways to cheer and applaud the tireless work of the hundreds of thousands of nurses during the pandemic.
The ICN’s theme for International Nurses Day 2020 is Nursing the World to Health. It’s an apt description of what nurses do every single day.
“This is our moment. Let us seize this time not just for the sake of nursing, but for the benefit to health of our world”Annette Kennedy President, International Council of Nurses
Let’s join in the celebrations! While many of the planned events around Australia have been cancelled because of the social distancing precautions, the Australian Council of Nurses (ACN) is encouraging nurses to take some time out and treat themselves to a self-care breakfast on 12 May.
If you are a nurse or a nursing student, please accept our heartfelt thanks and admiration. The rest of us might want to stop for few minutes on 12 May to think about what nurses have done for us. It could be remembering a personal or family health crisis where nurses made a difference, or perhaps a personal memory of a nurse letting you know they cared, by taking the time to check in, or explaining something in everyday language, or by simply being with you.
And if the work of skillful and dedicated nurses inspires you to join them