Though well into her final trimester, Kate Middleton hasn’t let the impending birth of her third child stop her from attending royal engagements. At the very end of February 2018, the Duchess of Cambridge visited the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and St. Thomas’s Hospital in London. While there, Kate Middleton ran into the midwife who helped deliver her daughter Princess Charlotte, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, and the two shared a warm embrace.

But Middleton didn’t make the visit just to be reunited with her former midwife: She was there to become the second patron of the Royal College and to officially announce the Nursing Now 2020 campaign, which aims to raise the profile and status of nursing worldwide. As the name suggests, the three-year campaign is scheduled to last until 2020, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

“This campaign means a lot to me personally. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both volunteer nurses,” Middleton said in a speech she gave the campaign launch. “They would have learned first-hand from working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment and the Red Cross about the care and compassion that sometimes only nurses can provide.”

Find out everything you need to know about the Nursing Now 2020 campaign below.

Critical Roles Played by Nurses

Nurses are the heart of most health care teams, caring for patients from their first breaths to their last, helping with everything from checking blood pressure to offering diagnoses to administering shots and painkillers. “Nurses are always there. You care for us from the earliest years. You look after us in our happiest and saddest times. And for many, you look after us and our families at the end of our lives,” Middleton said. “Your dedication and professionalism are awe-inspiring.”

As the Duchess of Cambridge went on to point out in her speech, sometimes nurses may be the only health care provider readily accessible in certain areas of the world, which is why it’s extremely important that enough nurses be trained and placed in the coming years. “In some parts of the world, nurses are perhaps the only qualified health care professionals in their communities, so your work is all the more vital,” she said.

Coming Shortage of Nurses

According to Middleton’s speech, 9 million more nurses will need to be trained by 2030 to meet the rising demands worldwide, which works out to about 2,000 more nurses each day for the next 12 years. Nursing Now 2020 hopes to start filling that gap by increasing the profile of nursing roles and raising awareness about becoming a nurse. Indeed, the nursing shortage has been deemed a global crisis since 2002, but the recruiting and retention of nurses hasn’t been able to keep up with the health care demands of a growing population.

Five Campaign Goals

To help increase the number of nurses, and to support nurses already working in the field, the Nursing Now website lists five main goals that the initiative hopes to achieve by 2020. They are:

  1. Greater investment in improving education, professional development, standards, regulation and employment conditions for nurses.
  2. Increased and improved dissemination of effective and innovative practice in nursing.
  3. Greater influence for nurses and midwives on global and national health policy, as part of broader efforts to ensure health workforces are more involved in decision-making.
  4. More nurses in leadership positions and more opportunities for development at all levels.
  5. More evidence for policy and decision makers about: where nursing can have the greatest impact, what is stopping nurses from reaching their full potential and how to address these obstacles.

Basis for the Initiative

The goals and methods of the Nursing Now movement are based on a Triple Impact report, which was released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health in October 2016. The report found that empowering nurses would not just improve health globally, but also build strong economies and promote gender equality (as the vast majority of nurses are still women). These three results combine to form the triple impact that nurses could potentially have. “The nursing contribution is unique because of its scale and the range of roles nurses play,” the report said.

Organizations Behind the Movement

Kate Middleton may be the most recognizable public face of the Nursing Now campaign, but two major health organizations are behind the campaigns: the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization. The International Council of Nurses represents millions of nurses worldwide, and seeks to represent them, advance the profession, and influence health policy. The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that seeks to address international health policy. The campaign is also supported by the Burdett Trust for Nursing, an independent charitable trust that helps fund nurse-led projects.

A Global Campaign

The Nursing Now Campaign Board includes both nurses and non-nurses from 16 different countries to represent a truly international group. Official launch events were held in London (where Middleton spoke) as well as Geneva. Various international nursing associations also hosted their own launch events, with locations including Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Taiwan, and Macao.

Ways to Get Involved

Beyond advocating for nurses and nursing, individuals who wish to support the campaign can sign the Nursing Now pledge and share the social media kit on various platforms. If there is no existing Nursing Now group in their area, nurses and non-nurses may band together to form their own group, though the process is lengthy to ensure participants are committed.

Whether you live in a developing country or an advanced health care economy, the coming nursing shortage will affect the entire globe, and is being felt in some places already. Through its five goals, Nursing Now hopes to help meet that need by recruiting new nurses and empowering existing ones through greater leadership opportunities and better policy decisions. To learn more about Nursing Now 2020, visit the campaign website.

Deborah Swanson
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