They are the faces of care. They are there when we wake up after surgery; when we get our food delivered to the hospital bed; when we check in at emergency care; and often they are the last people we see before we go to sleep during an overnight stay at the hospital. They hold our hand when we are scared. The give us reassuring smiles. They are nurses. And today, we celebrate their work. This year more so than ever.
What is International Nurses Day?
The Swiss-based International Council of Nurses (ICN) established International Nurses Day to bring attention to the essential work of nurses as part of the greater health care complex. This day is celebrated on May 12 to commemorate the birthday of the most famous nurse in history, Florence Nightingale, in 1820 – exactly 200 years ago.1
The British nurse took her experiences as a military hospital nurse during the Crimean War back to Great Britain where she initiated a campaign to reform health care and nursing, consequently opening her Nightingale School of Nursing in London in 1860. Several nurses that received training at the school later went on to open their own nursing schools around the globe including in Australia, China and the US.
Nursing the World to Health
When the ICN announced the theme for this year’s International Nurses Day – Nursing the World to Health – back in October 2019, the Council probably had no idea how fitting this theme would be in May 2020. The whole world is ailing. And the whole world needs healing.
The intensity of the Coronavirus outbreak across the globe has brought to light the hard and crucial work of nurses more than ever. We all have seen the images of nurses’ faces marked with lines after day-long shifts wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) non-stop to protect themselves and patients from COVID-19. Some nurses sleep at the hospital to be available whenever they are needed; others have dropped off their children with relatives, so they don’t infect their families when they get home from their health care jobs or take the virus with them to the hospital.
A recent study2 of health care workers in China, including over 60% of nurses, who were involved in providing care for COVID-19 patients or suspected patients showed the mental health toll this pandemic took on them. The findings of the study concluded that “a considerable proportion of health care workers reported experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress”. This outcome highlights the enormous mental strength nurses show and intense psychological stress nurses must endure on a daily basis during the current crisis.
Medical staff is not only involved in the treatment of COVID-19, however – sometimes they are patients themselves. More than 3,3003 healthcare workers in China, over 6,5003 in Spain and more than 9,0004 in the United States are infected with the Coronavirus. They expose themselves to the danger of the virus in order to save the lives of others.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has helped us realize that heroes and heroines are not necessarily people who do something outstanding and courageous once or every now and then. We now appreciate, more than ever, the everyday heroic acts by health care workers. And for this daily combat action on the health care front we say: THANK YOU!
2 Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2763229?guestAccessKey=43ca48ab-1bfd-478a-8b81-30b09b627a9e&utm_source=silverchair&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_alert-jamanetworkopen&utm_term=mostread&utm_content=olf-widget_04202020