The 12th of May is a great day for nurses. International Nurses Day, and the lead up to it, is celebrated around the world and marks the anniversary of the birth of the most well known nurse of all, Florence Nightingale.
Her efforts during the Crimean War are well documented, but her work afterwards contributed massively to nursing and helped shape the future of nurses. She founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at St Thomas’s Hospital in 1860 – the objective being to educate nurses to train others, and as the International Council of Nurses rightly states, Florence Nightingale personified many of the important ideas that are crucial to nursing today: values, vision and voice. Her strong sense of right influenced her work throughout her life and she saw nursing as helping people to live. She fought for healthcare for people regardless of faith or economic background.
Clearly, she was way ahead of her time and I’m struck by how diligent she was in fighting her corner for what she believed to be right for social care: for people to feel well – mentally, physically and spiritually. She really was a pioneer at a time when the odds were stacked against her.
Of course nursing has changed and there are many pioneers driving us forward, but our principles for patient care are the same and our footprint in health care policy, shaping the future of nursing and nurses, is just as important. We are all advocates – still, and we are on the cusp of times which are uncertain.
Therefore now, just as in the 1800s, we need to remain strong, support each other, reach out and learn from one another and…stick together.