Shine a light on the role of nurses in 2020


A look at events in nursing in 2020, the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

 chief nursing officers Fiona McQueen (Scotland), Ruth May (England), Jean White (Wales) and Charlotte McArdle (Northern Ireland). Nursing takes centre stage in 2020, which is designated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the WHO.
L-R: chief nursing officers Fiona McQueen (Scotland), Ruth May (England),
Jean White (Wales) and Charlotte McArdle (Northern Ireland)

Nursing takes centre stage in 2020, which is designated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO’s chief nursing officer Elizabeth Iro told Nursing Standard it is ‘a once in a generation opportunity to shine a light on the greater role that nurses and midwives play as part of multi-disciplinary healthcare teams, providing high quality, patient-centred healthcare’.

The WHO aims to raise the profile of the two professions and attract more people into them in what is the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

Use 2020 to challenge perceptions of the role of nursing

What does it mean for front-line nurses in the UK? The UK’s four chief nursing officers (CNOs) told Nursing Standard that 2020 should be used to propel the nursing profession into the public sphere and challenge perceptions of the role.

CNO for England Ruth May said an immediate focus would be on promoting a career in nursing to potential nursing students ahead of the deadline for applications to universities on 15 January.

Dr May said she and chief midwife for England Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent will also travel across the country between April and November ‘so that we can see the great work going on, and meet and celebrate with teams across England’.

In Wales, nurses and midwives will meet politicians and the general public at the National Assembly for Wales in May to talk about the modern-day professions.

‘There is a lot of misunderstanding from politicians and the public about what the professions of nursing and midwifery do today,’ said CNO for Wales Jean White.

In Northern Ireland, CNO Charlotte McArdle is focusing on nurse-led homeless health, nurse leadership and diversity – including raising the profile of men in nursing.

Ms McArdle, who is writing a UK-wide guide for the public on nursing roles, said: ‘It’s important to think about the future and why people want a career in nursing.’

Encourage investment in nurses’ education, recruitment and retention

CNO for Scotland Fiona McQueen wants to use 2020 to create a lasting legacy for nursing, and look at ways to better support newly qualified nurses.

International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) chief executive Howard Catton told Nursing Standard that the year must be used to encourage governments across the world to invest in nurses’ education, recruitment and retention to achieve universal healthcare.

He said: ‘Nurses are working to deliver health, but if this is unable to happen then a person can fall ill and they will be out of a job and very quickly could spiral into poverty.’

Commenting on the year ahead, RCN general secretary Donna Kinnair said: ‘I would urge all of you… to help celebrate the work that nurses do every day of every year to ensure all of their patients receive the highest quality care.’

Key dates in International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

  • 7 April WHO, ICN and Nursing Now launch the first State of the World’s Nursing report. It aims to provide a global picture of the nursing workforce, support evidence-based planning and set the agenda for policy dialogue, research and advocacy
  • 12 May International nurses’ day. This year’s theme is nursing the world to health
  • 13 May RCN Wales event showcasing nursing to the public and politicians at the National Assembly for Wales
  • 13-15 May WHO 9th Forum for Government Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers (location to be confirmed)
  • 17 May Walk the Talk, annual event in Geneva, Switzerland, celebrating the importance of health
  • 17-22 May Chief nursing officers and young nursing and midwifery leaders will address the World Health Assembly in Geneva
  • 30 August The 11th ICN NP/APN Network Conference 2020 to be held in Halifax, Canada, for nurse practitioners and advanced nurse practitioners
  • 27-28 October International conference, Nightingale2020, ExCeL London. The event’s theme is transforming the impact of nursing on global health and care
  • 12 Dec Universal health coverage day, calling for adequate healthcare across the world

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