The World Health Organization (WHO), a global institution that provides services to member countries of the United Nations, has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The year 2020 will be the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and recognizing her contribution to health and humanity. The designation by WHO of 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife is intended to alert governments to the need to recruit and retain staff to prevent potentially disruptive nursing shortages world-wide.

“Nurses care for people across the lifespan and across all points of the wellness-illness continuum,” said Dr. Caralise Hunt, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Nursing at Auburn University. “The ‘Year of the Nurse’ honors nurses’ commitment to positively impact health for all and raises awareness of the need for an increasing number of nurses who are representative of the diverse patients for whom we care. Our goal at AUSON is to meet the need for more nurses by graduating students who are prepared to provide effective and quality health care to people in a wide range of practice settings.”

What does this mean for the field of nursing? It will promote an excellent standard of education for nurses, create better working environments to retain nurses in the field, and advocate for more advanced nurses which in turn gets more people better healthcare coverage.

Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN), said that recognizing the year of the nurse and the midwife will underline the important role nurses play in healthcare. Nurses cover a broad spectrum of health care, from promotion of health to prevention of illness, care of physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people of all ages, in all health care and other community settings.