By Catherine T. Milne, APRN, MSN, ANP/ACNS-BC, CWOCN-AP
Heroes are regular folks put into a circumstance they did not ask for. Faced with the impossible, they pull off the improbable. You know – Harriet Tubman, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his Co-pilot Jeff Skiles, first responders during 9/11, Veterans. 2020 also has its heroes. This year has been designated the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization in honor of Florence Nightingale's birth in 1820. Little did we know when it was announced in 2019 that our biggest professional challenge was right around the corner.
Heroes During COVID-19
Nursing has been named the most trusted and ethical profession for 18 consecutive years.1 In many areas of the world, nurses often are the only health care providers.
Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, launched the first professional nursing school in London, in 1860. She reduced the mortality rate of British soldiers during the Crimean War from 42% to 2%,2 by using scientific principles of data collection and analysis. Florence Nightingale was not embraced by all, however. She was called "stubborn, opinionated, and forthright."3 Being a hero requires resilience and innovation.
WoundSource 2020 Digital Edition
Nurses in our corona-filled world display these very characteristics. COVID-19 forced us to use technology in ways we never fully embraced before. We were forced off a cliff – and the parachute opened! While we miss face-to-face encounters, we have adapted and thrived. WoundSource® held its first WoundCon® online symposium as the virus was ramping up. More than 6,000 participants raved about the quality of presentations and speakers. Many expressed relief that educational needs could be met during this unusual time–Florence Nightingale would have been proud.
I have never seen such camaraderie among health care professionals, including team members who never seem to be called heroes—nurse aides, maintenance staff, cooks, transporters, and the C-suite administrators who keep trying to obtain PPE for us.
Florence was considered a hero, and we are seen that way, too. Like throwing a stone into a pond, there is a ripple effect. First responders parade by while honking horns and blaring sirens to show support. As of early June, over 230,000 nurses worldwide have contracted the disease, and 600 have died.4
The ripple effect goes further. Author Gary Chapman5 proposed that humans show caring through one of five ways: gifts, words and actions of encouragement, physical touch, quality time, and acts of service. I am overwhelmed as those without jobs or businesses bring food, make masks, and donate whatever they can to help health care providers and others. With a bit of "nurse" inside them, they too, are heroes.
This virus may change the way we live and work, but it cannot change our inner human core. We care, we love, we advocate for others. 2020 is truly the Year of the Nurse.
1. Brusie C. Nurses ranked the most profession 18 years in a row. Nurse.org. January 7, 2020. https://nurse.org/articles/nursing-ranked-most-honest-profession/. Accessed June 16, 2020.
2. Lee S, ed. Nightingale, Florence. Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co; 1912.
3. Edge S. Florence Nightingale: medical superstar. Daily Express. May 12, 2016.
4. International Council of Nurses. More than 600 nurses die from COVID-19 worldwide. June 3, 2020. https://www.icn.ch/news/more-600-nurses-die-covid-19-worldwide. Accessed June 16, 2020.
5. Chapman G. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. 4th ed. Northfield Press; 1992.
About the Author
Catherine T. Milne, APRN, MSN, ANP/ACNS-BC, CWOCN-AP, is the co-owner of Connecticut Clinical Nursing Associates, a practice focusing on direct patient outcomes, consultation, education and research in the fields of wound, ostomy and continence care.