12th May 2020

COVID19 and the Year of the Nurse and Midwife

By Brian Webster, student nurse, University of Dundee

COVID19 has very few positives but at least, thanks to COVID19, healthcare professionals and nurses, in particular, are being recognised, appreciated, and commended for their professionalism, commitment and determination.

Due to COVID19, the wider public are now hearing more from the World Health Organisation (WHO), with some perhaps never even hearing of the WHO before now. The WHO declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. We celebrated International Day of the Midwife on the 5 May this year and the 12 May marks International Nurses Day which the International Council of Nurses has themed on Nursing the World to Health. This date this year is also 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale.

With increased publicity for nursing, there is the hope for a greater interest in people wanting to be nurses and deciding to apply to study. There are shortages of nurses across the UK as well as internationally with the WHO estimating 9 million more nurses and midwives are needed by 2030. Nursing also has a comparatively low numbers of male professionals, explained by a number of reasons, including the historical perceptions of the role. The narrative language the pandemic has brought, for instance “heroes”, “fighting” and “battling”, may attract and spark interest in a wider pool of people who would consider a career in healthcare.

It is, however, important to remember that you should thoroughly research a career in nursing and the roles you would be expected to undertake. According to NHS Scotland careers, some of these roles you would undertake as a nurse include:

  • carrying out physical examinations and clinical assessments
  • monitoring patients and recording their clinical condition
  • giving medications and injections
  • responding quickly to emergencies
  • acting as an advocate for patients and their families

Nursing is an excellent career for people from all walks of life. The four main disciplines in the UK are adult, child, mental health and learning disability but these four are only the beginning and each four have many sub-specialities within them. My field is adult nursing, and within that there are so many options, including but not limited to:

  • district nursing
  • general practice nursing
  • rehabilitation nursing
  • older people’s nursing
  • accident and emergency nursing
  • intensive care nursing
  • theatre nursing
  • cancer and palliative care nursing
  • community staff nursing
  • occupational health nursing

Nurses are now more than ever, being recognised for their contribution to healthcare and things have certainly moved on since the era of Florence Nightingale. The new Nursing and Midwifery Council standards for nurses and nursing students have been recently updated to reflect patient need and the ability and skill of nurses. An excellent example of this was reported by Nursing Standard, where a nurse was appointed and recognised as having the same level of autonomy as a consultant doctor.

I hope you will celebrate and support International Nurse’s Day 2020 and might consider a career in nursing – a rewarding, lifelong career with endless possibilities.