2020 was the year of the nurse for all the wrong reasons. It was certainly not what the World Health Organization (WHO) envisioned when they designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It was originally conceived as a year-long celebration of the nursing profession in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Instead, due to the pandemic, the general public was bombarded with unceasing images of exhausted nurses surrounded by critically ill and dying patients that became so commonplace that they now fail to shock even the most impressionable. Even though nurses consistently top polls of the most trusted professions, their irreplaceable position in the health care system prior to COVID-19 pandemic may have been taken for granted. Now, their role in this battle has cemented their immeasurable worth in the consciousness of the world at large.
As we marked the somber one-year anniversary of the declaration of the global pandemic, even with the advent of vaccine rollouts and access to more effective treatments, nurses across the globe are still battling for their lives and the lives of their patients with scant opportunity to celebrate their profession. In acknowledgement of the circumstances of the past year, the WHO made the decision to extend honoring nurses through 2021.
Nurses have been pushed to the brink of their physical and psychological endurance and yet have still persevered. They have held the hands of the dying and rejoiced when someone recovers and returns home. That seesaw of emotions has taken its toll. Individuals who take up nursing as a profession generally do so out of an innate sense of wanting to serve, knowing that there are easier and likely more lucrative ways to make a living. While burnout will inevitably be the result for many nurses after the end of this crisis, others will soldier on because it is not simply what they do, but rather who they are.
Like other organizations involved with the nursing profession, NCSBN knows how crucial nurses are to the health and welfare of the nation’s and the world’s citizens.