International Nurses Day 2014 – Nurses: a force for change

Nurses: a force for change
J H Piego

On May 12, countries around the world are coming together to celebrate International Nurses Day (IND). The theme for this year is “Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health”. The Global Health Workforce Alliance takes the opportunity of this day to celebrate nurses and highlight their contributions to the health of society.

The Global Health Workforce Alliance (The Alliance) joins its partners in honoring International Nurses Day (IND), observed every year on 12 May – the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. The theme for this year is “Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health”. The Alliance takes the opportunity of this day to celebrate nurses and highlight their contributions to the health of society.

In hours of need, when people are most vulnerable, nurses are there doing difficult and lifesaving work. Nurses do not simply provide clean bandages or an intravenous line. Nurses offer hope, comfort, and reassurance to patients and their families. Nurses are the backbone of every health care system and, because of that, they deserve to be thanked and supported.

As the largest group of health professionals, who are the closest and often the only available health workers to the population, nurses have a great role to play in the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. However, this feat will only be possible if nurses are able to practice to the full extent of their education, training, and capabilities. For instance, there is a need by relevant stakeholders to develop policies and strategies aimed at:

  • making nursing education more affordable (e.g., through caps on tuition fees or by offering grants to students) in order to expand the nursing workforce;
  • improving health information systems so as to allow nurses to spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork but also reduce costs and errors; and,
  • investing in clinics run by nurse practitioners to discourage the unnecessary usage of hospitals’ emergency departments for non-urgent health problems.

The Alliance takes the opportunity of this day to call upon national governments, international agencies, and private-sector organizations to work together and ensure that nurses are in the position to perform at their highest potential. Our mission must be to live up to the values that nurses uphold each and every day.

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