A Day to Celebrate the Role of Nurses

Article excerpt

Last friday was International Nurses' Day, a day when everyone was able to celebrate nursing and the valuable role nurses play in health care and promotion.

A career in nursing can be rewarding for many people and International Nurses' Day gave us the opportunity to promote the positive aspects of nursing.

Each day, nurses make a real difference to the wellbeing of individuals and they are increasingly found in leadership positions, where they have the power to influence and challenge as well as change health care delivery.

But it was also an opportunity to promote nursing to people in general and help them appreciate the benefit that nurses can bring to their lives.

May 12 is celebrated because it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a key figure in nursing history who still provides inspiration today and is known universally as The Lady With The Lamp.

Nightingale worked tirelessly throughout the Crimean War and was instrumental in changing health care provision.

She campaigned to improve the quality of nursing by publishing books on the practice and established the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses, based at London's St Thomas' Hospital.

We also acknowledge the work of Mary Seacole and our own Welsh nurse Betsi Cadwaladr, who both nursed soldiers in the Crimean War.

The day also gave us a chance to spend some time reflecting on the past and looking to the future.

Already we have seen nurses becoming advanced clinical specialists and clinical leaders working at a strategic level.

And the Royal College of Nursing is growing, too. It is a strong, dynamic, key player in health care policy across the UK.

This month we have launched Focus 400, a new recruitment campaign aimed at helping the RCN reach a target of 400,000 members in the UK.

With Nurses' Day activities as the celebratory highlight of the month, the campaign will particularly concentrate on raising the profile of nursing and the RCN and will last until the end of the year.

At a time when, according to the Department of Trade and Industry, trade union membership continues to drop, RCN membership currently stands at 385,000 and is continuing to grow. …