By Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, CEO, Australian College of Nursing
Nurses across the country have been moved by the outpouring of appreciation the community has showered on them for the exceptional care they have provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today is International Nurses Day, an opportunity to celebrate the amazing and dedicated nursing profession.
Despite the restrictions in place, Australians have found innovative ways to express their support for our front line workers; people from around Australia have clapped, danced, raised funds, given gifts, lent a hand and rallied behind our nurses.
My hope today is that we will each take a moment to acknowledge the hundreds of ways nurses care for us – and not only during a crisis.
It would be impossible to list them all, however the roles nurses play in our lives are numerous, from the nurses serving in the military; to those looking after our loved ones in aged care homes. We have mental health nurses, immunisation nurses and those who visit us in our homes. Primary care nurses who help us manage chronic conditions, those in emergency and ICU through to maternity, in surgery, in palliative care and in every hospital ward they are there.
Nurses are with as at every step and stage. During this pandemic, we have recognised how much we need nurses as a wider community, however the feats and sacrifices that have been highlighted are what nurses do day in and day out.
While we can be optimistic that the worst of this emergency is behind us, nurses will continue to be there for us at the worst times of our lives.
Nurses care for us, let us make sure we care for them.
Shockingly, while nurses are doing their vital jobs, they are often abused, harassed, hit, spat on, and threatened. Nursing is one of the most high-risk occupations in relation to experiencing workplace violence. It has been estimated that between 80 and 95 per cent of nurses face repeated episodes of aggression each year.
I call on individuals, employers and governments to translate our gratitude for what our nurses do for us into action to keep them safe.
Our nurses have stepped up during this emergency and once again proven their exceptional skills and commitment. Yet our health system is currently designed to hold our nurses back and prevent them from working to their full scope of practice. Nurses want to do even more to ensure all Australians have access to quality care, and it is past time to let them.
Many may be surprised to learn that despite Australian facing its worst health crisis in a century, substantial numbers of nurses have been working less hours or even made unemployed. We cannot afford to lose these talented professionals from our healthcare workforce. Initiatives are needed to support them through this challenging period and back into work.
Nurses are not just there for us in a crisis. Together we can honour them long after this crisis is over.
This article was originally published on the LinkedIn account of Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN on International Nurses Day.