1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN, FAAN


What can we take away from this year?


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As people who commute know all too well, as soon as someone says, "Traffic seems light," cars come to a grinding halt. I often experienced a similar phenomenon when working in the ED: a supervisor making rounds would say, "Looks like things are nice and quiet," and then we would immediately be inundated with a slew of admissions, patients crashing, and upset families. Jinxed.

Figure. Maureen Shaw... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Maureen Shawn Kennedy

I feel that way about this past year-the year designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife" to recognize the essential roles of these clinicians in improving care around the world. Major reports, including the first-ever report on the State of the World's Nursing (SoWN), released by the WHO in April, and a second Future of Nursing report, whose release was delayed until Spring 2021 because of COVID-19, were setting an agenda to guide nursing in the next decade, as the profession was increasingly recognized as key to achieving global health care goals. I even titled my December 2019 editorial "Anticipating a Banner Year for Nursing," highlighting the yearlong celebrations that would give nursing the recognition it so deserves.


Well, I was correct that 2020 was a banner year, but for the wrong reason-it wasn't a year of celebration, it was a year that showcased the value and critical role of nurses.


In health care, practice settings ramped up to redesign units and reallocate and reeducate staff to manage patients severely ill with COVID-19. Nursing education went online; new partnerships were forged between academia and hospitals so students could continue their education and to ensure new graduates were safe and competent to practice. Journals revamped content to provide nurses with information about this new coronavirus, changing care protocols, and the issues around having enough resources for patients as well as for protecting clinicians. Nursing conferences went virtual or were canceled altogether.


Usually I interview the president of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) at its annual meeting in May. Of course, that didn't happen this year, and it wasn't until September that I spoke by phone with the AACN's current president, Elizabeth Bridges, PhD, RN, CCNS, FCCM, FAAN. (You can listen to a podcast of our interview by going to and clicking on the "Multimedia" tab, and then on "Podcasts" and "Conversations.") Bridges is a professor at the University of Washington School of Nursing, and a clinical nurse researcher at the University of Washington Medical Center. It's tradition that each president sets a theme for the year and the one that Bridges picked (back in November 2019, pre-COVID) was "This is Our Moment-All In." It seems prophetic given what's happened.


Bridges' community, Seattle, was the first in the United States to be affected by COVID-19, and so, as she notes, "There was no playbook." Her university shut down on-site courses, and Bridges' job quickly became focused on increasing the capacity of the hospital and nurses to provide care to the surge of severely ill patients hospitalized with this new disease. Additionally, as the AACN president, she had to continue the governance of the organization and help it "turn on a dime" to reprioritize initiatives to provide COVID-19 educational resources and "to help nurses maintain their own wellness, which will now be an even more important ongoing focus."


As we go forward from this difficult year that was supposed to be one of celebration, we should take great pride in the fact that, perhaps for the first time, at the same time, nurses' work, commitment, and skills are visible all over the world. Bridges' theme is alive globally-nurses are "all in." The issue now, as Leslie Mancuso and Patricia Davidson noted in AJN's May guest editorial, is that achieving the United Nations' sustainable development goals depends on nurses. Mancuso and Davidson urge nurses to use the SoWN report "to spur pro-nurse policies and government investments. . . . Simply, the health of the world hinges on it." This is our moment. Be all in.