Yes, nurses! That means you! Get ready for a year dedicated to recognizing your hard work and commitment to the profession.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the year 2020, the year of the nurse and the midwife. You are probably wondering, why now? We’ve known about nursing shortages for some time. In fact, because of all the press the nursing shortages are getting, you may even be thinking it’s unnecessary.

Well turns out that there are a couple of reasons for declaring 2020 the year of the nurse and the midwife…

  • Reason one: The year 2020 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Nightingale (if you don’t already know) is credited with founding what we know as modern nursing.
  • Reason two: We are just ten years out from UHC2030. Universal Health Care by 2030 (UHC2030) is a commitment that was made by the Member States of the UN (all 193 of them) in 2015. WHO has warned that the world needs no less than nine million nurses and midwives if the goal of access to healthcare for everyone in the entire world is to be met by the year 2030.

Nursing Shortages are a Global Problem

We’ve all read the headlines about growing nurse shortages in the U.S. and some of us have experienced the pressures of it at work. But it is not a national problem alone. Other countries in the world are experiencing nurse shortages as well.

As WHO and other global organizations move forward looking for ways to support and grow healthcare systems and increase access and availability worldwide, you can begin to see how nine million doesn’t seem exaggerated after all.

Nine Million Nurses Needed

Where does WHO get this number of nine million? In February 2018, WHO published as a fact that nurses and midwives account for 50 percent of the healthcare workforce worldwide. Nine million is 50 percent of the total number of healthcare workers needed to reach UHC2030.

So, what can we expect to see for 2020? WHO, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Nursing Now are applying pressure to world leaders for investments in nursing and midwifery to be made on a massive systemic scale. Expect for your nursing organizations, educators, and even employers to be aware of this campaign and perhaps join in on some level.

Who Are the ICN and Nursing Now?

The ICN “is a federation of more than 130 national nurses’ associations, representing the more than 20 million nurses worldwide”. In a press release dated January 1, 2020, ICN President Annette Kennedy said:

“Whenever I talk to nurses, I realise that each of them has a story to tell. They are with patients from birth to death, they share in their saddest and most joyful times, they help them to get through the most traumatic of situations and they help them to recover their lives. And sometimes, they sit with patients while they are dying, providing comfort and solace in the last moments of life.”

It’s Time for Nurses to Tell Their Stories in 2020

Pressures they are under. Challenges they face. Triumphs they witness. In 2020, we need nurses to share their stories, to tell their families, their friends and the communities that they live in what it is like to be a nurse.

Increasing the public’s understanding of who nurses are, what they do, and the amazing contribution they make to the societies they live in will help us to ensure that the legacy of 2020 will go on for years in the shape of more and better-supported nurses providing essential care in the communities they serve.

Doesn’t that make you feel validated? Review their website for more information about this global organization. Be sure to also check their events timeline to find out about international conferences.

Nursing Now was birthed in 2018 following the 2016 Triple Impact Report, which found that “developing nursing will improve health, promote gender equality, and support economic growth”. It is a campaign to garner attention to nurses and the essential role they play in our health systems across the world.

It is an ever-growing social movement of groups in more than 80 countries worldwide, advocating for policy changes that will improve work conditions for nurses and increase accessibility of healthcare to communities. They have launched what they call the Nightingale Challenge for 2020.

The Nightingale Challenge is asking healthcare employers to provide leadership training and professional development training for young nurses and midwives throughout the year.

How Can This Affect You?

In addition to the global organizations pushing this initiative, there are several advocacy organizations in the U.S. that will no doubt be hard at work this year as well. Here’s a list to get you started:

2020 is an Amazing Year to be a Nurse

This is an amazing year to be a nurse. People always say that your identity shouldn’t be all tied up into your work. However, I argue that when you are a nurse, it is part of your identity.

Saving lives. Serving people in times of need. Being part of a team. These are all integral parts of what it is to be that unique human being that has chosen a career in nursing. So often we feel overworked and underappreciated. Those feelings lead to dissatisfaction with our work, which can lead us down the dark road of nursing burnout and resentment.

My advice? Get into it! Feeling like you are contributing to a global movement could give your life an added sense of meaning. Contributing to a cause that celebrates your profession and the guidance and knowledge you bring to your community can counteract those feelings of underappreciation. It could bring back that passion for your work.

If you don’t feel like you have the time or energy to directly contribute, you can still benefit from reading about their events and updates. Knowing there are people out there in the world that value your work, even indirectly, and are making waves for change can be a boost for you.

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Written by Miranda Booher, RN

As a twelve-year Registered Nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and healthcare marketing, Miranda brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has a impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Uruguay, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her hanging out on the beach with her loyal husband, three crazy kids, and their beautiful German Shepherd-Husky dog.

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