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International year of the nurse and midwife offers a chance to showcase our talents

2020 will be a rare opportunity to demonstrate the value of community and public health nursing 

The international year of the nurse and midwife in 2020 will be a rare opportunity to demonstrate the value of community and public health nursing


Picture: iStock

Next year, 2020, might be the greatest opportunity for public and community health.

With so much happening in the world of politics and the daily dramas that grab the headlines around Brexit it can be difficult for the best of us to have any possible understanding of what is going on.

‘Leadership of the nursing profession has hardly been stable over the past year’

The one thing that we do know is that when new leaders take office there are always changes, new ways of working and at times disruption that can hinder the way forward.

In the world of nursing we are all familiar with the concepts of change, its impact, new approaches to leadership and the different approaches to the provision of health and social care across the UK.

However, the leadership of the nursing profession has hardly been stable over the past year. We have seen many changes, with new leaders appointed at the Royal College of Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery Council and NHS England.

The impact of these leaders is yet to be seen but we know that the changes were driven by different factors and forces, such as the pay debacle in England, the lack of response from our regulatory body and restructuring.

What is happening with leadership in nursing and what is the state of nursing?

Nurses working in public health and community settings still feel the emphasis is on acute, hospital-based services. More worryingly, many leaders of our profession appear to be NHS focused.

‘We need to take time to remember the innovation, commitment and professionalism demonstrated daily that shows our profession at its best’

It is frustrating that leaders and influencers who represent the profession fail to understand or recognise that members of the nursing team are employed by a variety of organisations and provide care in a range of settings.

The issues around the recruitment and retention of staff, nursing and midwifery education and safe staffing levels affect all of our patients in one way or another, regardless of where care is provided.

It is easy to say that the state of nursing is not good. We need to take time to remember all the innovation, commitment and professionalism demonstrated daily that shows our profession at its best.

On social media the best of nursing is not always portrayed, and this is a missed opportunity. Social media can be our best friend and our worst enemy. It is time to grasp the opportunity that social media offers and use it in a professional manner to promote our profession and influence those who matter.

The World Health Organization has confirmed that 2020 will be the international year of the nurse and midwife – describing it as a once in a generation opportunity to showcase our professions.

For those of us who work in public health and community settings, 2020 may be the greatest opportunity we ever get to show the world what we do, how we do it and the difference we make to the lives of our patients.

For the leaders of our profession it is time to recognise that next year is a chance to promote stability in the profession and reach out to all members of the nursing and midwifery family regardless of who they work for or where they work.

We know that we face unprecedented periods of change and uncertainty across the UK. By taking a responsive approach and demonstrating compassionate leadership, nursing and midwifery can grasp the opportunity that 2020 offers as a platform to demonstrate our professionalism and value to the wider world.


Jason Warriner is chair of the RCN Public Health ForumJason Warriner is chair of the RCN public health forum

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