7 reasons to be grateful for nurses

This International Nurses Day, there’s even more cause than usual to appreciate the magnificent women and men at the frontline of our health system.

Even before nurses found themselves facing the coronavirus pandemic head-on, the World Health Organisation designated 2020 the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” to mark 200 years since Florence Nightingale’s birth.

International Nurses Day, on May 12, marks the anniversary of Nightingale’s birth – and this year’s theme of “nursing the world to health” has never been more apt.

As one UK study shows, nurses are highly valued for their knowledge, communication, compassion and motivation.

There are a plethora of reasons to be thankful for nurses – here are just a few:

1. Nurses are at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic

Australia’s chief nursing and midwifery officer, Alison McMillan, says nurses are playing a critical role in the COVID-19 response.

“They’re working in respiratory clinics, providing important support, comfort and guidance to people who are frightened about whether they have COVID-19,” she says.

“They are delivering care to people in their homes – particularly people with chronic conditions.

“In aged care, nurses are helping put in place vital infection control processes to protect the elderly.

“Nurses are at the frontline in the intensive care units, where the nurse is the person who is at the bedside of the most vulnerable, 24 hours, seven days a week.”

2. They put their own health at risk to protect ours

International Council of Nurses president Annette Kennedy says more than 100 nurses around the world have already died as from contracting COVID-19 at work.

“The thought of these nurses, who are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, losing their lives because of the caring work they do, is truly heartbreaking,” she says.

3. They sacrifice family time for long hours at work

International Council of Nurses chief executive Howard Catton says nurses are working extended hours during this crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown health workers at their finest, often working long hours in terrible situations,” he says.

4. They care for society’s most vulnerable

The sick, frail and elderly – or anyone who finds themselves in the care of a nurse – are often the most vulnerable members of our community.

Now more than ever, nurses are taking care of those most at risk, all over the world, and filling the void left by family members who cannot visit them in hospital.

5. They provide emotional support

Nurses tend not only to our physical wounds; they help nurture our emotions back to good health, too.

Whether it’s soothing our fears or listening to our worries, nurses will often lend an ear and support when a patient needs it most.

6. They are great medical minds

Doctors undoubtedly have phenomenal medical expertise, but nurses have quick medical brains and can provide sound clinical advice, too.

Don’t discount a nurse to pick up on something when a doctor is not available.

7. They get the dirty work done

There are many aspects of a nurses’ role that would leave plenty of us quite squeamish. Nurses are able to roll up their sleeves and get the dirty work done.

Written by Sally Heppleston.