International Nurses Day celebrates their vital role in the country’s health and wellbeing

12 May 2020 | Health Quality & Safety Commission

Tuesday 12 May 2020 is International Nurses Day.

An initiative of the International Council of Nurses, the day celebrates the work of nurses, highlights the challenging conditions they often face and advocates for increased investment in the nursing workforce.

This year’s theme is ‘Nurses: a voice to lead – nursing the world to health’.

The Health Quality & Safety Commission’s chief executive, Dr Janice Wilson, says nurses and midwives provide expert, evidence-based clinical care combined with compassion as they work in partnership with individuals, families and whānau to achieve the best outcomes for their patients. ‘It is fitting that mahi is observed around the world every year on 12 May.’

Dr Wilson says the vital role of nurses and midwives in the health and wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand has been highlighted in recent weeks as the country has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘They have worked tirelessly with their colleagues to anticipate and adjust their everyday work to screen for COVID-19, care for COVID-19 patients and deliver the country’s usual health care services in hospital and community settings throughout the country.

‘For some, this has meant learning the new skill off “donning & doffing” personal protection equipment.’

She says International Nurses Day this year has special significance because 2020 is also the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, in honour of the 200th anniversary of the birth of nursing role model Florence Nightingale. 

‘Florence would be proud of them. This nursing pioneer was an early researcher, nursing leader and reformer. She was one of the earliest infection prevention control nurses, leading the way for safer environments and provision of health care.

‘Nurses today follow the same rules for infection prevention, using the WHO’s 5 moments for hand hygiene framework to drive culture change and establish best hand hygiene practice for every patient, every time.

‘As we reflect on the mahi of nurses and midwives, we take inspiration from this whakataukī:

Ma tini ma mano ka rapa te whai. (By many, by thousands, the work will be accomplished. Unity is strength.)’

More information on International Nurses Day can be found on the International Council of Nurses website.

Last updated 12/05/2020