It has been a year since we celebrated Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday!  While our May 2020 activities honoring her legacy were scaled back due to the pandemic,  it is time to again celebrate her remarkable accomplishments and align her vision, insights, and advocacy to our current situation. Let me share why Florence Nightingale would be proud of how nursing and nurses met, exceeded, and continue to manage the challenges of the pandemic. Join me in speculating how this remarkable nursing leader would evaluate the critical roles that nurses played on the frontline, across the care continuum, in the board room, and in the community as united professionals with patient care as their number #1 focus.

Recognition of Nurses

  • Florence would be pleased by the universal recognition of nurses for their contributions to patient care with special gratitude to frontline nurses expressed by elected officials, organizational leaders, patients, families, peers, and the general public. Social media coverage of nurses was and continues to be substantial with evidence of the gratitude and acts of kindness documented and celebrated as being well deserved.
  • She would be impressed by the recent sale of a picture of a small British boy holding a nurse portrayed as a superhero in the painting. British artist Banksky* sold the painting for $23 million dollars and is donating the money to a hospital; funds will be used for recognition and improvement of patient care.
  • She would applaud that The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2021 as the year of the Nurse and Nurse Midwife for the second year in a row as recognition of their work.

Evidence-based practice

  • Florence Nightingale was a trailblazer in the use of statistics and data in improving care by eliminating practices that harmed patients and would have heartily endorsed the use of evidence in creating action plans for addressing the critical issues. She would be a colleague and fan of Dr. Fauci and other scientists and would applaud the dissemination of information to the public because of the need for their partnership in preventing the spread of disease.
  • While she may be confused and disappointed by the politicization of wearing masks, she would celebrate the importance of handwashing and her directive from 1869,  “Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.”

Resilience

  • Florence would celebrate the resilience of #frontline nurses, advanced practice nurses, nurse leaders, nurse educators, and other nurses in providing care and education during challenging times.
  • She would be able to verify that her core values and emphasis on continuous improvement were alive and well.

What about you? How would you evaluate nurses and their work during the pandemic?

It’s been a year since our last celebration.  We know that the past year has increased awareness of our role, and we know how valued we are by the public. Now, I encourage you to take time this month to reflect on the privilege that we share of being a nurse, our own gratitude for the ability to improve the quality of lives of others, and the joy we  experience as being the “most trusted profession.” Happy Nurses Week!

*Cover photo by Bansky