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Nurses Demonstrate Resilience During a Challenging Year

Editor’s Note: Content sponsored by CUNY School of Professional Studies

Despite personal and professional challenges, nurses have always played vital roles in healthcare delivery, and their work has been invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stakes have been high for everyone in the past few months. Nursing administrators have had to focus on strategically mobilizing their teams to care for patients with COVID-19, while nurses work tirelessly to meet these patients’ evolving needs. And everyone must keep from jeopardizing safety.

Safety is paramount, since nurses from various specialties are caring for patients with COVID-19 at increased personal risk. This pandemic has, in effect, brought more attention to the importance of advocating for patient and workforce safety.

Regardless of the risks, nurses push on — performing their duties in multiple acute, rehabilitation, long-term care, and home settings. Not to mention they comfort families in remote locations and hold the hands of dying patients.

Given all that nurses do, it is an understatement to say the nursing profession demonstrates resilience.

Resilience is the ability to meet challenges, persevere through adversity, and remain optimistic about the future. The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly tests our professional resilience. Nurses are using self-care strategies, mindfulness, compassion, fatigue management, and psychosocial support to manage stress.

As the future of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unknown, it is important to appreciate nursing’s contributions to past, current, and future healthcare delivery and how our contributions reaffirm our professional resilience.

A Historical Reflection on Nursing Resilience

Our nursing history provides opportunities to reflect on our resilience and future contributions to healthcare. Nursing evolved into a profession between 1850 and 1920. This period was marred by wars, cholera, the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic, and global areas of civil unrest.

Florence Nightingale, the “Lady with the Lamp,” administered care to Crimean War soldiers, became a public health advocate, collected statistics, and supported infection control and healing practices. As part of her life’s work, Nightingale developed nursing educational programs and shared her knowledge internationally.

The Bellevue Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York City was the first school in the U.S. guided by Nightingale’s nursing educational principles.

It’s no wonder Nightingale’s work still resonates today. Inspired by Nightingale’s efforts, nursing continues to champion diverse nursing roles in healthcare, political involvement, and global health initiatives.

The World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife

It is ironic that a global healthcare crisis occurred during the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The World Health Organization dedicated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to commemorate Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. It celebrates vital nursing roles in the local, national, and international arenas.

Increased nursing workforce demands are associated with global health disparities, social determinants of health, and healthcare challenges. The WHO’s State of the World’s Nursing Report supports nursing education and practice expansion. Clinical nursing and advanced practice roles provide opportunities to increase healthcare access, decrease health disparities, and enhance the quality of life.

Professional nursing practice is expanding through educational initiatives, legislation, and regulation.  Our educated nursing workforce contribute to quality healthcare outcomes in local, national, and international health arenas. And our academic and clinical nursing roles increase the profession’s capacity to meet current and future healthcare needs.

As healthcare delivery evolves, innovative nursing roles are in demand. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, nursing educational programs are faced with the task of providing clinical experiences for future nurses through virtual health technology.

It is the time for nurses to acknowledge each other, applaud our resilience, appreciate our nursing history, and support our evolving roles in healthcare.

As Florence Nightingale said, “Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it we are going back.”

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Patricia Bartley Daniele, PhD, FNP-BC, CCRN, CNRN, CAPA, CPAN, is an Associate Nursing Professor at CUNY School of Professional Studies.

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