In 1991, the American Nurses Association established National Nurses Week as a time to recognize the selfless caregivers who serve their communities. Each year celebrations culminate on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is widely recognized as the “mother of modern nursing.” On the 200th anniversary of her birth, the World Health Organization announced 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. In the spirit of Nurses Week and the Year of the Nurse, this week’s posts will highlight nursing graduates and students who are serving on the frontlines of COVID-19 across the country.
This year, Nurses Week has a very different level of significance for me. The year began with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife and nursing was recognized as the profession most trusted by the public for the 18th consecutive year. Coincidentally, this year is also my 40th anniversary of being a nurse. Nowhere between the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 could any of us have imagined that we would be living in the midst of such tremendous global upheaval, what we now refer to as COVID-19.
Today, more than ever before, the public is aware of the intense courage it takes to be a nurse. Every hour, nurses walk into situations where their work requires a level of personal contact that means putting themselves at risk for the safety and well-being of their patients. They are at the front line of a battle with a vicious virus and are directly involved in trying to relieve the pain, fear and loss that is unfolding.
I feel a deep sense of accountability. Our students are touching peoples’ lives in ways that matter. The nursing education programs we offer must be student centered, effective and, most of all, compassionate. Each day, our deans and faculty work to provide students with the instruction that will help them achieve their goals. The deans and faculty connect with every student and know that by supporting their goals and teaching them what they need to know – they will change and save lives.
Over the past two months, I have seen the value our students and graduates bring to their communities. They are true heroes. Many are working on the frontlines of COVID-19, then returning home to study and build their knowledge. They are taking on the unimaginable. Their courage, passion and commitment are what motivates the faculty and staff across our nursing programs to continue delivering an excellent education, whether it be from home or the classroom.
As Nurses Week begins, we want to honor the students and graduates for the work they are doing to keep us safe. Over the next few days, our blog posts will be dedicated to telling their stories and sharing their thoughts. It is our most humble way of recognizing their impact on the world.
To our students and graduates:
Never give up. Keep fighting. Know we are behind you through every long shift, every tough call and every joyous life saved.
Dr. Sheila Burke
Vice President of Nursing