International Nurses Day 2020

When the World Health Organisation declared 2020 as Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, no one could have imagined the global health crisis the world was about to face.

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of nurses in every healthcare system. It’s fitting that, on 12 May, International Nurses Day, that we commemorate 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is considered the founder of the modern profession of nursing. Nightingale was a social reformer, an innovator, a statistician, an educator and a tireless advocate for improving public health.

florence nightingale
Florence Nightingale (centre), in 1886, was an advocate for improving public health. Picture: Getty Images

Together with Universitas 21, the Department of Nursing at Melbourne School of Health Sciences is celebrating International Nurse’s Day. The Dean of Nursing at Yale University, Ann Kurth, will be presenting ‘Nursing in the New Era of Infection and Communicable Disease’. The emergence of novel infections such as, HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola and now COVID-19, are the result of widespread degradation of the environment in which we live. Globally, destruction of natural habitats, urbanisation, population densification and mobilisation create the ideal conditions for new diseases to evolve and then be transmitted to humans.

Nurses have long contributed to public health efforts to limit communicable disease transmission through the development and delivery of prevention, surveillance, and management programs. In light of the current pandemic, it is timely to revisit our contribution to population health efforts in responding to infectious diseases and to consider what this might mean for the development and education of future generations of nurses.

We aim to share and learn from the recent experiences of our international counterparts in the role nurses play in preventing, predicting, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, we will explore implications for nurses’ scope of practice and consider strategies for enhancing the capacity and capability of the future nursing workforce.

Read Professor Marie Gerdtz’ feature in Pursuit to look back at the changing role of nursing over the last 200 years and acknowledge the integral part they play on the frontline of COVID-19.

Register for the webinar . The session will be available to download here afterwards.