1. Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN
  2. INS Chief Executive Officer Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing

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It would certainly be an understatement to say that 2020 was a challenging year in the lives of health care workers. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic shown the world the vital role that nurses play in patient care across the health care continuum, but it has also exposed weaknesses in our health systems and the enormous pressures nurses are facing in the workplace.1 Many have found themselves in situations never seen before, frequently working long hours with limited access to personal protective equipment and evolving guidance on how to care for patients with the virus.2 We also recognize the tremendous emotional toll that nurses have had to bear in treating COVID-19 patients who have been isolated from their loved ones. In many cases, nurses have been the ones holding patients' hands as they conveyed their last words to family members on a phone or iPad.

Mary Alexander, MA, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN INS Chief Executive Officer Editor,

Yet the pandemic has also given us the opportunity to explore new models of care in which nurses are at the center of the conversation. Nurses, as the largest health care profession,3 and ranked as the most honest and ethical professionals for 19 straight years,4 must play an integral part in planning the future of health care.


2021 is already moving in the right direction in that aspect with several noteworthy appointments within the Biden administration. In response to a viral petition for nurse representation, Jane Hopkins, RNMH, of Seattle, WA, was appointed to the bipartisan Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.5 Ms. Hopkins specializes in mental health and has more than 20 years of bedside experience. Rear Admiral Susan Orsega, a nurse practitioner, was named Acting US Surgeon General in January. Admiral Orsega has an extensive and distinguished record of public health and emergency response experience. She is one of only handful of non-physicians to serve the federal government in this role.6 Mary Turner, RN, of Minnesota, was recently appointed to the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Ms. Turner will lend her expertise to this group who have been charged with issuing a range of recommendations to help inform the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, specifically highlighting related health and social inequities7


After the World Health Organization's (WHO's) celebration touted as the "Year of Nurse and Midwife" had to shift focus to the COVID crisis last year, WHO announced an extension of the program into 2021. "The whole world has recognized their [nurses] merit and bravery" said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. "I salute the nurses and the midwives. It is your year. But you have been so busy... that I decided to extend the year into 2021."1 Dr. Kluge underscored that "there is no health without the health workforce. Their merits have been recognized globally, and this should lead to a new moral and material future for them in line with their responsibilities."1


The American Nurses Association will also be doing their part to increase the visibility of nurses' contributions from 2020 to the present by expanding its National Nurses Week to National Nurses Month. Each week in May will have a specific focus that highlights self-care, recognition, professional development, and community engagement.8 INS is proud to participate in these campaigns that honor and celebrate nurses who serve in all aspects of the nursing profession. We also invite you to read and contribute your personal journey on our members' Lived Experiences page on our website at


As we continue to manage the effects of COVID-19 and distribute vaccines, it is only fitting to mention that the individual who received the first vaccine in the United States was a nurse. Currently serving as director of clinical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, Sandra Lindsay has been leading hundreds of nurses in her unit since the start of the pandemic. "Some days, I don't know how I got through it," she said. "Some days, I didn't know how I got home, but I knew I had to rest and get ready to come back and do it again. Because I did not want to leave my team to do it alone."9


We encourage you to promote nurses' health and well-being8 in your communities in any way you can. Now more than ever, we need to support and acknowledge the impact nurses have made in health care systems around the globe as well as in the lives of their patients.




1. University of Malta. WHO extends the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife through 2021. Newspoint. Published December 3, 2020. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


2. Taubert J. Why 2020 will forever be the year of the nurse: a look back on how the pandemic has impacted nursing. Published December 9, 2020. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


3. American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). AACN nursing fact sheet. Published April 1, 2019. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


4. American Nurses Association. The American public continues to rank nurses as the most honest and ethical professionals in annual Gallup poll. Published December 22, 2020. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


5. Stone A. Biden appoints nurse to COVID-19 Advisory Board. ONS Voice. Published January 6, 2021. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


6. Jercich K. Biden appoints Rear Admiral Susan Orsega as acting surgeon general. Healthcare IT News. Published January 27, 2021. Accessed February 22, 2021.[Context Link]


7. The White House. President Biden announces members of the Biden-Harris Administration COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Published February 10, 2021. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


8. American Nurses Association. About nurses month. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]


9. Otterman S. 'I Trust Science,' says nurse who is first to get vaccine in U.S. Published December 14, 2020. Accessed February 18, 2021.[Context Link]