It’s Nurses Month again, and as we celebrate the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday, the founder of modern-day nursing, we can’t help but note that the many nursing practices she developed during her time are not only still relevant today, but in fact, have become important weapons in the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic. What a year it’s been, caring for the sickest patients we’ve ever encountered, fighting an insidious, mutating virus, invisible to the eye but with effects unmistakable to all our senses.
Even as our country experiences social injustice on a scale not seen in decades, we still provide care without judgement to all of our patients. Nurses are over-spent, overwhelmed, exhausted and morally injured, frustrated that we can’t provide the care we’ve been trained for—yet we keep going. We recognize our calling is to care for those in need; to be champions for those whose voices are silenced or muted, and to use science to inform our decision-making, while fighting our own fears and acting as the bedrock of healthcare.
How have we accomplished so much in such a challenging year as 2020? When I look back in history to learn lessons from the past, it’s clear that Florence Nightingale also fought many overwhelming challenges throughout her life and career as a nurse. In her own words, “I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took an excuse
.” How true these words ring today. As nurses we don’t ever make excuses or take them from others. We simply rise to the occasion, no matter what, and get the job done. After all, the job is about caring for people.
We recognize that healthcare as a profession, needs to change and adapt to the consequences we’ve experienced this last year. We simply weren’t ready for pandemic. But we worked to cross-train and upskill nurses and other staff quickly to care for patients with COVID-19. In doing so, we brought care delivery systems from years past into the future, by creating an interdisciplinary care team model and shifting how we educate practicing and student nurses, to optimize a practice-ready workforce. And through our own ingenuity, innovation and creativity, we embraced change, and viewed it as merely another challenge to overcome, not an insurmountable obstacle.
Throughout this past year, we rediscovered our voice as nurses too. It’s a voice that not only speaks for those in need, but as leadership in healthcare, and one that can transform care delivery, with the insurance that every individual will have access to the best evidence-based, quality care. We’ve looked fear full in the face and said, “we will not be daunted.” As nurses, we represent quality care and are a vital part of the leadership team that transforms healthcare into the future.
As a nurse, I honor your dedication to those in need, this month and every month, and am humbled to be your colleague. Together, we can and will create a vision for healthcare’s future because “we never took or gave an excuse.” We simply just do what needs to be done for the good of all. We are nurses, after all.