How 2020 Truly Became the Year of the Nurse

Posted over 2 years ago

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Opinion: How 2020 Truly Became the Year of the Nurse

By – Julia Stocker Schneider PHD, RN, CNL | President, ANA-Michigan


Early in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 2020 would be the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. 2020 seemed like the perfect time to recognize registered nurses for Year of the Nurse for many reasons:

  • Florence Nightingale, "Lady with the Lamp," founder of modern nursing, was born May 12, 1820, making 2020 the 200th anniversary of her birth.
  • In May 2020, WHO will release the first-ever State of the World's Nursing report.
  • Nursing Now, a global campaign launched in 2018, will conclude at the end of 2020. 

*Nursing Now focuses on registered nurses having a prominent voice in health policymaking, more significant investment in the nursing workforce, recruitment of more nurses into leadership positions, researching where nurses can have the greatest impact, and sharing best practices.

  • Registered nurses now make up the majority of the worldwide healthcare force, more than 50% in most countries.
  • Registered nurses bring a "Triple Impact" to their communities: better health, stronger economies, and increased gender equity.


Nurses welcomed 2020 with excitement and anticipation, preparing for year-round celebrations, recognition of nurses, and spotlight on the work they do every day. Little did we know that 2020 would truly become the Year of the Nurse, but for reasons outside of our expectations. 


Nurses have always answered the call to serve their country and communities during times of crisis. Enter Covid-19. Since mid-February, nurses have been on the frontlines caring for patients in their communities. The nursing profession's non-negotiable ethical standard states that "the nurse's primary commitment is to the patient." During this pandemic, nurses are continually caring for critically ill infectious patients, often under extreme circumstances, including insufficient or inadequate resources. Nurses bring compassionate, competent care to their patients even when the nature of their work puts them at increased risk. 


There are 4 million nurses in the United States; roughly 1 in every 100 Americans is a nurse. If you are not a nurse, you may have a nurse in your family, or you may know a nurse in your neighborhood or your child's school. Every day we hear about nurses on the front lines and the tremendous challenges they face during this crisis. Nurses know that we will get through these extremely challenging times.


Yes, 2020 is truly the Year of the Nurse, but for far different reasons then we anticipated. As individuals and as communities, we should honor and champion nurses, not just throughout 2020 but every day, for what they do for us and bring to our communities.