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The University of Southampton

International Nurses’ Day - definitely time to celebrate nursing

Published: 12 May 2020
Lucy Cumming student nurse
Student Nurse Lucy Cumming is currently working on a COVID-19 intensive care ward.

As the world marks International Nurses’ Day – and International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife is marked throughout 2020 – it’s fitting to celebrate the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth 200 years ago.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic dominating headlines and our lives at the moment, is now the right time to celebrate nursing? In a special article published by the Nursing Times to mark the occasion, Professor Jane Ball and Dr Julie Cullen from the University of Southampton suggest that now is the right time to celebrate nursing, and also to reflect and value the skills, compassion and leadership that nurses – including student nurses - bring to a situation like we’re experiencing at the moment.

Professor Ball, a degree-educated nurse herself, is Professor of Nursing Workforce Policy at Southampton. Dr Cullen is a Principal Teaching Fellow at Southampton and Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at the University as well as a former Consultant Nurse.

“At this time of great turbulence and unprecedented health care need, we are witnessing now more than ever the value of modern nursing,” say Professor Ball and Dr Cullen. “It is this that we want to celebrate today, as we witness the calm professionalism of colleagues and students in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Florence Nightingale shone the light on the core ‘ingredients’ of nursing and we believe we are witnessing the same in our student nurses responding to COVID-19.”

From their perspective, Professor Ball and Dr Cullen believe that the pandemic and our responses to it, have genuinely demonstrated the global importance of nursing.

“In the past few weeks, it is has become increasingly apparent the depth of reliance we have on highly educated, skilled nurses, so too is our appreciation for the value of nurses who have the knowledge and ability to think critically as well as providing care with kindness and respect.”

They continue “What we have been seeing these past few weeks is the professional nurses of the future, coping with conflicting pressures, and responding to the ‘call to arms’ with calm, careful deliberation.”

Professor Ball and Dr Cullen go on to stress the importance of degree-educated nursing, led by universities like Southampton which has a 60-year legacy of teaching, training and developing nurses with 643 nursing students currently enrolled on its Pre-Registration , undergraduate and postgraduate Nursing Degrees and Diplomas.

“The challenge of COVID -19 has meant that nurse educators and students have engaged more frequently during this time of uncertainty,” they emphasise. “Both educators and students are working together to bring about the huge transformation to well-crafted nursing programmes so that the NHS workforce can be supported by students to the limits of their competencies.”

“We are immensely, proud and personally rewarded as educators and personal tutors to see in our students the behaviours of the professionals we hoped they would be,” they add. “During COVID-19, we have seen staff and students, drawing on the key characteristics that epitomise nursing professionalism. They are manifesting the traits, skills and behaviours that rely on accurate and open communication, within the context of a rapid pace of change and unclear path ahead.”

“From where we’re sitting – the future is bright,” they conclude. “Even in these difficult times, there is much to celebrate about the future of nursing, not just its past.

Video release

To mark International Nurses Day 2020, nursing students and staff from the University of Southampton have released a video in which they share their views on the true value of nurses in the world today.

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