Feb 05, 2020
By Barb Shellian

Any plans for 2020?

2020 on the calendar—it still sounds awkward to say it. There is an air about 2020 that makes a person think that something momentous and extraordinary should be happening. Well, indeed, something is—this is the year for nursing! I want to share some of what’s happening so that you can make your plans!

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The year 2020 is significant for WHO in the context of nursing and strengthening midwifery for universal health coverage.

There are many resources and other information about this initiative on the WHO website: a campaign toolkit and news about what is happening in other countries (see Additional Resources, below). In April 2020, the State of the World’s Nursing report will be released, and many celebrations will be held at the World Heath Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, in May.

The International Council of Nurses is also opening a 2020 International Year of the Nurse and Midwife portal, bringing the global nursing community together to make a major impact in 2020.

The Canadian Nurses Association has implemented the focus of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to target Nursing Week activities, as well as the theme of its biennial convention in Ottawa this June. Your jurisdictional nursing associations are also involved in planning activities for this special year.

Now you must be thinking that the Year of the Nurse is well looked after! But you’re not getting off the hook so easily. The Year of the Nurse is a one-time career opportunity for all of us to do things—to engage, to highlight the contribution of nursing to global health. Make plans and do stuff, my friends!

Our participation may involve activities of the professional associations, but nurses can also do things individually. Here are some suggestions (borrowed from the WHO campaign kit):

  • Organize recognition awards and certificates. Initiate recognition for nurses in your local or national health care facilities in appreciation of their contribution to the community.
  • Display campaign posters. Produce and display International Year of the Nurse posters at strategic locations—supermarkets, bus stops, schools, local health facilities, and elsewhere.
  • Engage local leaders and celebrities. Ask your health care leaders to promote the Year of Nurse in their speeches and on social media, websites, and television and radio interviews.
  • Work with artists. Approach artists to create artwork or music for health workers, with a focus on nursing.
  • Become active on social media. Get in on the drum roll and participate in social media campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Share photos and video testimonials of and from nurses, patients, health leaders, influencers, and advocates—explaining why this vital workforce is essential, and why we need greater investment in the health workforce.

I have plans. I know that I will add more during the year, but these are some things that are in the Shellian Year of the Nurse plan:

  • Add four more nurses to my mentorship list.
  • Participate as a presenter in podcasts and conferences related to advocacy.
  • Complete two seminars for nursing students on advocacy.
  • Write a letter to the mayor of my home town to formally recognize Nursing Week in my community.
  • Be part of the Nightingale Challenge in my home province.
  • Stay connected with my professional associations and jump in with their plans.
  • Tweet, tweet, tweet: #Nurses2020
  • Continue to pester folks in my editorials for the digital Canadian Nurse.

I’ll be contemplating more as time goes by, keeping my eyes open for possibilities.

As nurses, we chose our profession because we know that the work has meaning, and that our contribution to people, our country, and the world is worthwhile and valuable. This is a year to, as they say in the Prairies, “make hay while the sun shines”: take the opportunity that has been given to us as a profession and make a plan for 2020—big or small. Right now.

Additional Resources

WHO Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020

ICN 2020: International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife


2020 Profiles in Nursing

Canadian Nurse is looking for your nominations for the upcoming series “2020 Profiles in Nursing.” Over the next year, we will publish the stories of Canadian nurses who have had impact, either recently or historically. We welcome your ideas about whom to profile and how they have contributed to their field. Fill out a nomination form here.

Editor-in-chief Barb Shellian is a registered nurse committed to nursing practice, health care reform, and people. She is the immediate past president of the Canadian Nurses Association. She is also Director of Rural Health, Alberta Health Services—Calgary Zone and lives and works in Canmore, AB.

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