In this Year of the Nurse and Midwife May has been designated Nurses Month this year instead of the usual Nurses Week from May 6-12. This is to honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale who was born May 12, 1820 in Florence, Italy.

The COVID-19 virus has certainly created a unique situation and has managed to ruin or stunt most celebrations so far this year, but plans continue to honor nurses throughout the world and the timing couldn’t be more fitting. Nurses are flexible and innovative. Plans will continue. Nurses on the frontlines, as well as those supporting them from behind the scenes, are sorely in need of something joyful and positive for the profession. 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to bring attention to the shortage of nurses around the world and encourage more young people to investigate nursing as a career. The WHO published the first State of Nursing Report on April 7, 2020 outlining how all countries around the world can help to stave off a catastrophic shortage of nurses by 2030. 

The International Council of Nursing (ICN) has invited nurses worldwide to contribute pictures and videos to the website depicting the day in the life of a nurse. Of course, the COVID-19 is dominating the current submissions and as an unintended benefit, it will be a living testament to those who have given so much because they have been called to help others.  The International Council’s theme for the year is prophetic: “Nurses a Voice to Lead Nursing the World to Health.”  

The American Nurses Association also has big plans for #theyearofthenurse. Now with special considerations for COVID-19 for social distancing and overwhelmed nurses, ANA will continue on with the plans. May will be as originally planned for whole month-long tribute to nurses. Like the ICN, the ANA is soliciting contributions of stories, pictures and videos depicting how nurses make a difference every day. (Please be HIPAA compliant!) This project is in collaboration with MOXIE SCRUBS. 

The ANA joined forces with Johnson & Johnson to honor nurses with a selection of podcasts and videos which can be found on the ANA’s Year of the Nurse website. The ANA theme for this year is “The Year of the Nurse 2020, Excel, Lead, Innovate.” The goal is “to raise nurses’ visibility in policy dialogues at all levels and spur expanded investment in nursing education, practice and research, as well as increase the number of nurses who serve in leadership positions.”

Throughout the year ANA will sponsor webinars and make them available online with on-demand access. Topics available so far include leadership, self-care, happiness, violence against nurses, building a resume, and creating a culture of innovation. 

Nurses Month 2020 will be divided into four week-long focuses. 

  • Week 1: May 1-9 will focus on self-care. Focus on your and others’ well-being through mindful self-recognition. 
  • Week 2: May 10-16 will focus on recognition. By honoring exemplary nurses, we will raise the visibility of the nursing profession and the critical work they carry out each day. The COVID-19 has already brought nurses and other health care workers into clear focus. Now it’s time to continue that focus on how nurses make a difference every day, even without a pandemic. 
  • Week 3: May 17-23 will focus on professional development. The focus for this week will be on how to lead and inspire others to become nurses and continue the effort to make a difference. 
  • Week 4: May 24-31 will focus on Community engagement. Through engagement in community, nurses will promote their contributions and educate the public on all of the things nurses do that make a difference for others.  

The goal for all of this is to raise awareness of the nursing profession. It should help encourage more people to become nurses so that the shortage of nurses is diminished and when pandemics occur in the future, the healthcare field is much better prepared to attack it head on. 

Happy Nurses Month! Thank you for being a nurse and making a difference!