International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on the 12th May, Florence Nightingales Birthday, to celebrate her remarkable achievements in nursing. This year marks the 200th anniversary of her birth and has consequently been assigned to the International Year of the Midwife and Nurse.
The theme for 2020’s International Nurses Day is “nursing the world to health”. This theme could not be timelier, with nurses selflessly working on the front line in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. International Nurses Day is a brilliant opportunity to recognise the amazing contribution nurses make to global health, not just throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but all of the time.
International Nurses Day during the Covid-19 pandemic
The world has gone into lockdown, cities have gone quiet and public events for the foreseeable future have been cancelled, however inside hospitals, there are more people than ever. Hundreds of thousands of nurses around the world are working day and night to fight the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).
Every nurse is a hero and should be applauded for not only their courage and commitment, but their willingness to expose themselves to the virus to treat infected patients. To celebrate their amazing work, we are showcasing some inspirational acts nurses are making throughout the crisis.
1. Coming out of retirement to support colleagues
1,000’s of nurses and midwives have come out of retirement to support their colleagues on the front line of the pandemic. Deirdre Barr, a retired nurse, came out of retirement in March to be appointed the Director of Operations at NHS Nightingale Hospital, London. She has helped to get the hospital built, equipped, staffed and receiving intensive care patients within 4 weeks of returning to her career1. Deirdre is one of the thousands of nurses whose return to nursing has had a hugely positive impact on the UK’s response to Covid-19.
For others, returning to work was not a possibility, either due to age, or underlying health conditions. Maggie Murphy had wanted to return to nursing, however, felt it was too risky at 73. Still wanting to contribute to the cause, she has instead been supporting healthcare staff, who are struggling with a lack of personal protective equipment, by sewing hospital scrubs. This helps to reduce their infection risk and ensure that front-line of healthcare workers are as prepared as possible2. Like Maggie, thousands of people worldwide have been finding ways to support front-line nurses through this crisis; from donating cagoules to use as PPE to making face shields for medical workers in the ovens of pizza restaurants!
2. Relocating to support the front line
The coronavirus pandemic has emphasised global shortages of nurses, with the World Health Organization stating we need an additional 6 million nurses and midwives3. To help deal with staff shortages in badly affected areas, many nurses have been redeployed to key cities, where the pandemic is hitting hardest, leaving their families behind to contribute to the global effort. In the U.S., temporary healthcare staff have been redeployed to hospitals around the country, with many leaving their state to travel to coronavirus hotspots like New York and Washington4. This is a brave decision, as it puts them at a far greater risk of exposure and means leaving their families and homes behind.
3. Student Nurses volunteering before being fully qualified
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK have given third-year student nurses in their final six months of training, the option to work alongside their qualified colleagues, fighting Covid-19 on the front line5. This is similar to the situation in many countries such as Italy and Australia, where nursing shortages are a problem. For student nurses, this means that their final year of training has been delayed so that they can contribute to the effort, before completing their studies. In the UK, more than 24,000 student nurses and medics have volunteered, despite still having 6 months training before they are fully qualified. Students have been thrown into full-time positions in the middle of this pandemic, with very little experience, to help support their country.
Nurses in their first 2 years of studying do not have the training or experience to volunteer in hospitals during this time, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of them volunteering to support healthcare workers in other ways. Student nurse Katie Dixon was inspired by a desire to help people in her community, so created a group of more than 1,000 volunteers offering support to locals. By helping the most vulnerable in our communities, she is helping to reduce the stress on health workers6.
These stories of courage and self-sacrifice are a testament to nurses, their dedication to both their patients and their job, reminds all of us why we have so much to be thankful for.
International Nurses’ Day is a chance for us all to say a huge thank you.
Vernacare have been working tirelessly to help nurses continue to care for patients during the difficulties of the outbreak. We want to ensure healthcare professional & patient safety is the highest priority within facilities. Read how we have supported NHS Nightingale hospitals in the UK, as well as healthcare facilities globally here.
To all the nurses working on the front line, thank you for all your expertise, love and care.