International Nurses Day is just around the corner! Around the world, people take this day to celebrate all of the wonderful care that nurses provide for patients and communities on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
This year, the theme for International Nurses Day is “A Voice to Lead: Health for All”. But what does it take for a nurse to be a leader?
Nurses are essential in transforming health care and health systems such that no person is left behind, without access to care or impoverished because of their need for health care – International Council of Nurses
While leadership is often talked about in abstract terms, nursing is a highly practical and hands-on profession. The challenges nurses face are infinite, and because of this, they are the ones who are best equipped to lead us towards achieving the goal of ‘Health for All’.
We asked Professor Tracy Levett-Jones what it takes for nurses to be leaders in the fight for globally accessible health care.
Tracy Levett-Jones, Professor of Nursing Education at UTS
The theme for International Nurses Day 2019 is “A Voice to Lead: Health for All”. What does this mean to you?
To me, the theme of this year’s International Nurses Day illustrates that any nurse who is committed to healthy communities and high-quality healthcare must use their voice to lead in the service of others. These types of selfless leaders are empathic and able to connect with people; they value others and inspire them to excel. But at the same time, they are strong, purposeful and driven by a vision to improve people’s health and wellbeing.
What challenges might nurses encounter that can undermine their authority as health care professionals? How can these be overcome?
Nurses are often called upon to speak out against poor practice, bullying and issues that undermine social justice and patient safety. This can be incredibly challenging and require profound moral courage. But to maintain our authority and ethical stance as healthcare professionals, we all have to remember what Martin Luther King Jr said:
‘For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing’.
What is your advice to nursing students who want to have their voices heard?
For nursing students (and nurses) to be effective leaders and to ensure that their voices are heard, they must remain strong, passionate and resilient. This requires a commitment to prioritising their own health and well-being and encouraging others to follow their example.
Unless nursing students make self-care a daily practice, they will soon experience burnout and be unable to speak out on behalf of others. Self-care requires habits that sustain resilience such as being grateful, reflective, vulnerable, authentic and mindful.
For more information about this important day, please head to the official website of International Nurses Day.