Year of the Nurse and Midwife, 2.0

Cast your minds back to just 12 months ago, (it feels like a lifetime). It’s January 2020, the World Health Organisation’s, Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The aim is clear: to celebrate and showcase nurses and midwives across the globe. Specifically chosen to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, it was going to be a year to remember.

It was going to be a year where we showed the best of nursing and midwifery, what we as health care professionals could do. How the career choice had moved on from cleaning bedpans and mopping the doctors brow, and that now, 167 years after the Crimean war where Florence made nursing mainstream, we were more than that. We were autonomous practitioners, working in advanced practice, education, research, leadership. Joining the nurse and midwifery family was more than woman’s work, it was a career where you could thrive and develop and excel.

Now, here we are, January 2021. The World Health Organisation’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2.0. I’d love to say that 2020 had been such a successful celebration that the decision was made to have a little after party and see what else we could do, but the truth is, the party got postponed because we all had to work.

The global celebration was overshadowed by a global pandemic, and instead of putting on our glad rags, we doffed PPE. Retired nurses, instead of praising their old profession from afar, returned to it to care for patients and families affected in so many ways by the corona virus. Student nurses stepped up to become Aspirant Nurses, brave on the wards to support their colleagues when they should have been enjoying university and making the most of their time to learn.

2020 couldn’t have been further away from a celebration of nursing and midwifery if we tried, but in contrast, how better a way to showcase how amazing we are then showing what we could do? How vital we are to global healthcare? In my opinion, 2020 was most definitely the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, (I know I know, not just nurses, nurses all know its a team effort).

For many of us, we are still in the grips of the Covid 19 pandemic. I spent the first wave working in a designated Covid ED, and now I watch my colleagues in the rest of the country suffer as slowly the rise in infections creeps towards my part of the country. A colleague described it as watching a tsunami coming towards us, but I said thats ok, “we have time to climb to higher ground.”

I have no doubt that the next couple of months are going to continue to be unbelievably hard, but I also believe the end is in sight. Restrictions and facemarks might not be going anywhere soon, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I say, lets make the light at the end of the tunnel a party light.

Right now the tunnel is dark and its damp. It feels claustrophobic and for some of us it can feel like we are surrounded by death and the dying. It’s a tunnel we didn’t want to go down but it was the only path to take to get us to our destination. When we finally see those disco lights at the end, we have a choice; we can walk out of this tunnel and act like the journey was no big deal, we were just doing our job, nurses are ok, I suppose- or we can take what I believe to be the right way.

I believe we walk out of that tunnel, into the disco and say ‘Yes!’ Yes, nurses and midwives are freaking awesome. Don’t believe us then look at what we just did, look how we stood up and did what we had to do, what we chose to do. Lets celebrate how we owned this pandemic, how we worked together to kick Covids butt! Let’s remember the friends and colleagues we lost along the way, and lets sit with out work mates that need a little help to process events. We are bruised and battered and the scars will be real, but this is our year now.

There will be time in 2021 to celebrate this Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2.0, but only if we dig deep and make the choice to celebrate us. To stand up for what we deserve; better pay, comprehensive education, safe staffing. To get people to train up and join us in the greatest profession, to open up opportunities and debate current global healthcare issues.

Nurses and midwives are awesome, so lets celebrate!

MENTAL HEALTH: If you need support with your mental health please visit The Laura Hyde Foundation, Samaritans, NHS People, Mind you local mental health provider or employers occupational health department. If you need help now please call 999.

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