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RCN's centenary offers a chance to reflect on a century of change

Former RCN president Lucy Ottley once said: ‘What an opportunity we have to guide the future of our profession, while maintaining the best traditions and standards of the past.’

Former RCN president Lucy Ottley once said: ‘What an opportunity we have to guide the future of our profession, while maintaining the best traditions and standards of the past.’

Since our very beginning on March 27 1916, we have tried to do exactly what Ms Ottley so aptly articulated – preserve the cornerstones of our profession while driving forward innovation.

Working at the heart of health services, nurses have witnessed some of its greatest changes over the past century. As part of our centenary celebrations we talked to nursing staff from across the generations to find out what they thought about the changing face of health care.

Our survey found that all nurses have experienced advances and difficult times, but the desire to care remains a steady constant. As an organisation that pioneers nursing development, it is great to see nurses reporting improvements in education and training, but they also told us that workloads are increasing while staffing levels and pay are declining. Tackling this will continue to be at the forefront of our work.

There are few people in the UK whose lives have not been touched by the dedicated care that nurses provide, and so many – from patients and their families to celebrities and politicians – have expressed their gratitude.

Nursing has come a long way over the past 100 years. But as we look to the future, high quality nursing care is something I hope will never change.

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