Today, nurses deliver 80% of the world’s health care. Unfortunately, Florence Nightingale’s vision of nursing is in jeopardy due to the acute shortage of nurses all over the world. To overcome this shortage, each nurse must contribute his or her share in advocating the value of the profession, inspiring the younger generation to take up the role of nurse and encouraging fellow nurses to remain in the profession. Experts predict improving the workplace and polishing the image of the nurse are some ways to prevent further shortage. This may avert a potential catastrophe in health care. There may be no better opportunity to do so than as homage to the legacy of the “lady of the lamp.”

Florence Nightingale’s contributions to nursing laid a great foundation. Her work has contributed to areas such as nursing education, nursing practice, nursing research, public health and health care reform. Nightingale was also a passionate environmentalist, concerned with environmental factors and their affect on health and disease. Even today her work is applicable and relevant. She is a great inspirational force behind modern nursing. Her vision and her mission as a global networker spread the message for disease prevention, health education and health promotion. Even a century after her death, Nightingale’s preaching and work on various aspects of health still holds strong.

What Is the International Year of the Nurse?

The purpose of the International Year of the Nurse is to draw attention to the nurse’s role in improving the health and welfare of individuals, communities and countries around the world.

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Three key forces stand behind this great opportunity to recognize nurses and the vital role they play in health care: Sigma Theta Tau International, the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health and the Florence Nightingale Museum in London. Other supporting agencies include the Watson Caring Science Institute, American Nurses Association, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, University of Minnesota School of Nursing and Decision Critical, Inc.

How You Can Make a Difference

There are many ways nurses can participate in the International Year of the Nurse. Here are just a few suggestions:

    • Sign the Nightingale Declaration for a Healthy World to make a difference by raising public awareness. This helps fulfill Nightingale’s dreams of a compassionate and caring world.
    • Forward the Web site information to fellow nurses and motivate them to sign the Nightingale Declaration for a Healthy World.
    • Spread the information about the International Year of the Nurse to foster pride and the feeling of worth in the minds of fellow nurses.  
    • Plan workshops and conduct campaigns on the role of the nurse in improving the health and welfare of individuals, communities and countries around the world.
    • Encourage fellow nurses to share their success stories through writing articles and speaking during public meetings.
    • Acknowledge the devotion and dedication of the world’s nurses and midwives by recognizing their achievements.
    • Raise public support and awareness for the eight UN Millennium development goals during its 2010 Celebrations.
    • Recognize the vital worldwide contribution of nurses and midwives in reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
    • Take active part in The Earth Charter’s mission, which includes caring for the community of life, maintaining ecological integrity, respecting universal human rights and diversity, advocating for economic justice, supporting democracy and promoting a culture of peace.
  • Participate in the Watson Caring Science Institute’s Million Nurse Global Caring Field Project and spread the main focus of the initiative: “Heart-Centered Love for Self, Others and the Planet Earth.”
  • Connect with young people who are considering nursing, from high school students at early job fairs to college students in BSN programs, and explain to them their role in the future of the field.
  • Be a mentor to new nurses or an attentive listener and willing learner if you happen to be that new nurse.
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“When I am no longer even a memory, just a name, I hope my voice perpetuates the great work of my life,” said Florence Nightingale. Let the International Year of the Nurse perpetuate her memory, her voice and her vision.

For my own part, I have taken up a project of showing my appreciation to a nurse per day in the year 2010. My goal is to motivate that nurse and request he or she inspire one more nurse. I believe I can reach millions of nurses by the end of next year, and I urge you to try and do the same.

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