Well, I will just make it. Posting on the last day of May my thoughts on what #FlorenceNightingale would think of nursing now.
First an amazing bit of history, from a BBC World Service programme called Witness History. This is 9 minutes on her achievements including a recording of Florence Nightingale’s voice from 1890, along with memories of her life from her great-nephew Harry Verney and her private doctor May Thorne https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p05bdb7d
So 200 years after her birth I think she would be a bit worried that modern nurses are perhaps not as political as she was. If nothing else once she became a recognised public figure she lobbied and advocated for better training, higher standards, better care and better working conditions. She managed to influence and promote health reforms, often from her bed, using research and statistics to convince others that policies needed to change.
So what about now? Thanks to the global pandemic caused by #COVID-19 nursing as a profession has a worldwide profile that it has never experienced in my lifetime. Nurses have a voice that the public are prepared to listen to. Hopefully that extends to the ears of politicians who ought to sit up and take notice. Will they reward us financially for our current pain? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath. However, we should remember that we are a limited resource.
The world is desperately short of nurses (about 9 million short). Nurse education needs to be reformed to better reflect the many roles nurses now find themselves in across the world. Nursing organisations need to work together in a way they never have before to improve the standing of the profession particularly in countries where the work of nurses continues to be undervalued. We can’t be handmaidens anymore, that is an inefficient and ineffective way to work. As Lord Nigel Crisp of the @Nursing Now Co-chair has said
“…Investing in nurses and enabling to work at the top of their license will have the triple impact of improving health, promoting gender equity and strengthening local economies.”
Covid-19 has shown the public that nursing is not menial work and the work of women. It is skilled, research-based, emotionally and physical taxing yet remains hugely rewarding (except financially).
My own thoughts are that we can’t let this opportunity be swept under the carpet. We need a new ‘Florence’ in every country. Someone to champion the cause in each and every legislature. Locally, nationally and internationally. Nursing is about politics, policies and bringing about #HealthForAll. I am sure there are other ‘Florence’s’ out there. It’s time for them and us to get out and influence the future. If #COVID-19 is going to create a new normal it is time for nurses and midwives to go and get involved.