When the World Health Organization declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, bringing attention to the importance of the nursing profession was one of its objectives. No one could have imagined a global pandemic would unfold shortly thereafter and profoundly illustrate how essential nurses are to our health care system.
This year was intentionally selected as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife to align with the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. It is important to note that Nightingale’s lessons – such as the importance of cleanliness, disease prevention and systematic data collection – are as strikingly applicable today as they were when she was caring for British soldiers during the Crimean War so long ago. Although life as we know it has changed significantly over the past few weeks, Nightingale’s lessons and the critical role of nurses has remained constant.
For the 18th year in a row, Americans have ranked nursing as the most trusted profession in the country, as measured by Gallup’s poll. Nurses are present for their patients, with care and compassion and are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the lives of our patients every day. We have heard this echoed in numerous moving accounts that patients have shared of their experiences while hospitalized with COVID-19, expressing gratitude to their nurses for stepping in to support them and be with them when their families couldn’t.
We have seen it every day at Texas Children’s as the nurses have cared for patients with COVID-19 and those with COVID-19 symptoms. We have witnessed their adaptability, critical thinking, teamwork and compassion. Now more than ever, the public is relying upon nurses, not only their care, compassion and human connection, but also for their resilience.
During this stressful time, I encourage all of you to reflect upon how meaningful your work is. Having a positive focus at work promotes resilience. Studies have shown that the perception of meaningful work can set employees apart from others, better equipping them to bounce back when work gets stressful. Over the past few weeks, we’ve collected photos and created a special video that captures just a few of our nursing heroes and the countless ways they are making a difference for our patients and families.
As our nation and the world are collectively thanking heroic health care workers for their service and bravery, I am thankful for the opportunity that Nurses Week brings for us to recognize and celebrate our very own Texas Children’s nurse heroes. Texas Children’s Nursing Retention Council has done an amazing job of adapting plans and developing a series of celebrations at the unit level in accordance with new social distancing guidelines, recognizing that we are in the midst of challenging times.