This article is a guest post by Denise Moulton, a registered nurse that works at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey.
This year’s theme for International Nurses Day, is Our Nurses. Our Future. This slogan invites us to celebrate the nurses of the present and learn from them in order to better plan for and address future global health challenges.
International Nurses Day is celebrated on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12th. Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, dedicated her life to helping others. Eager to follow in her footsteps, she attracted a variety of women from various socio-economic backgrounds to enroll in nursing school. Nursing was no longer frowned upon but was now a noble profession. Today, it is the largest healthcare profession in Canada!
Nurses take great pride in receiving recognition from their community. A recent survey ranked nursing as one of the most respected professions. Clocking in an average of 8km in a 12-hour shift, nurses literally run circles around other occupations who average a mere 4km a day. Compassion is a prerequisite to be a nurse, but it’s their exceptional ability to be the liaison of care between the patient and health care providers that has garnered us superhero status. Nurses connect the dots of health to enhance the patient experience.
In recognizing the invaluable role our nurses play at Surrey Memorial Hospital and beyond, it’s important to also recognize that there are ways we can better support our nurses now and into the future. Investing in nursing is key to improving the health and well-being for all Canadians.
One way to explore how we can better attract and retain nurses is to look at work scheduling. Nursing is a regimented profession and hospitals follow strict protocols which limit flexibility. Nurses today are looking for organizations that offer flexible schedules and work-life balance. Nurses want more control over their personal life to reduce stress and burnout. Innovative scheduling ideas like job-sharing-opportunities, flexible start and end times, and remote work options would promote self-care. Moving away from the traditional 12-hour shift and offering shorter ones is also a clever solution for accommodating semi-retired nurses and childbearing nurses who wish to balance work and family life.
As frontline workers in healthcare, nurses are uniquely poised to be the leaders in fostering equity, inclusivity, and diversity. Increasing the number of nurses available in hospitals, education facilities, and public health will not only improve patient outcomes, it will also ensure that people with all backgrounds and experiences access optimal health care. Health equity needs to be a priority in nursing education as well. Attracting and retaining students of diverse genders, races, cultures, religions, and ages will ensure minority groups feel represented and included in our healthcare system.
The Way Forward
May 12th is a special day for nurses all over the world. The theme, Our Nurses. Our Future. fits well with our desire to move nurses from invisible to invaluable in the eyes of the public and policymakers. The slogan “retain, return and recruit” must also be embedded into the social consciousness of the healthcare system and the individuals that utilize it. Flexible schedules, work-life balance, competitive compensation, and the promotion of diversity and inclusivity in nursing schools can strengthen the nursing workforce—with nothing but positive downstream effects on patient care.
About the Author
Denise is a registered nurse who is passionate about writing. Her background in journalism allows her to create compelling and informative content that resonates with anyone interested in healthcare. In her free time, Denise can be found exploring British Columbia’s hiking trails.