International Nurses Day 12 May 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated 2020 as the "Year of the Nurse and Midwife". What prescience. Globally the profession has taken great heart at the reinstatement of the position of Chief Nursing Officer in WHO.

All of us will be familiar with the history of Florence Nightingale. She is recognised as the founder of modern nursing. She was a practising nurse trained in Great Britain, Germany, France and Ireland and she undoubtedly had an international perspective for that time. As well as being a practising nurse she was also a statistician, a researcher, a critical analyst, logistician and a skilled networker in the political sphere. She utilised her influential network to bring political pressure on the government of the day in Great Britain. 

She certainly did not suffer fools gladly and neither did she take no for an answer. Her determination to publish her findings relating to the appalling mortality of the soldiers in Scutari barracks hospital in Turkey is a model of professional courage and persistence. She was not afraid to “speak truth unto power”. Today this courage is equally relevant. As individual nurses and in the context of professional nursing societies we must not shirk from this responsibility.

Nurses make up the largest healthcare workforce globally yet somehow this is less evident at the leadership level in terms of influencing national and international health policy. Even today in the crisis of Coronavirus the paucity of representation at an international level is a tragedy.

The weekly communal applause (that is global) for front line health care professionals in COVID care is appreciated. In fact one might say it is twice blessed - it blesses those who give and those who receive. However if governments do not recognise the importance of engaging with the relevant nursing leadership to contribute to policy, monitor and implement and monitor again then Ministries of Health are not serving their citizens. The informed citizens will let them know.

Proper professional representation is a “sine qua non”. Where professional leadership is not invited then insinuate.

While today is a day of celebration it is also a day of reflection which we hope will lead to a reformation in the profession of nursing with appropriate investment in undergraduate and post graduate training as well as the skills required to lead the profession henceforth. 

Have courage, stay well and safe
Anne-Marie Felton, FEND President 
Kristin de Backer, FEND Chairman

Personal quotes from FEND Executive members:

Photo Davide AusiliThe State of the World’s Nursing Report by the WHO (2020) reported how nursing is key for people health and wellbeing worldwide. However, many areas of nursing are under-recognized, under-developed, or under-used. Massive investments are needed to achieve the full potential of nursing. We need investments in education, jobs, and leadership. Everyone should take care of this issue as patient/caregiver, daughter/son, mother/father, wife/husband, or just as citizen of the world. In this 2020 International Nurses Day, please think about how your country, your region, your organization, and you in person, can help nurses to unlock their full potential. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Prof Dr Davide Ausili

Photo Kristin de BackerThey may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Kristin de Backer (quoting Maya Angelou)




Anne-Marie FeltonThe profession of nursing is without borders. The political influence of the profession of nursing must be stronger. Florence Nightingale was a relevant reformer of health care and the founder of modern nursing in the late 19th century. 

Let’s use her example to insinuate professional participation at the highest level of health policy, and to be present as of right. The destiny of the profession of nursing extends beyond clinical care and research, it also manifests itself in political terms.

Anne-Marie Felton

Photo Rita FordeIn this, the ‘year of the nurse’, so many celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, are but a version of what might have been.  Yet, there are so many reasons to celebrate nursing, and nurses, who are highly educated and skilled clinicians, educators, researchers, leaders, and innovators. The current pandemic has cast a spotlight on nursing and nurses have risen to this challenge.  Going forward nurses must balance the needs of the pandemic, with upholding nursing values for all those with other illnesses or long-term conditions such as diabetes.   

Dr Rita Forde

Arja HalkoahoNurses around the world are close to people, they listen and create security for all of us. They are skilled professionals but we need to ensure continuous training for all nurses in this rapidly changing world. Education is the key to change.”
Dr Arja Halkoaho



Photo Ana Cristina Paiva2020 is the International Year of Nurses. It is essential the recognition of nurses as highly qualified professionals and the recognition of the role of these professionals in the provision of health services through the protection, prevention, rehabilitation and restoration of health, dedicating his life to care throughout the life cycle of the person, focusing on the promotion of health projects that each person lives and intends to achieve, and thus, meeting essential daily health needs.
Ana Cristina Paiva

Photo Eugenia VlachouNursing along with medicine are the most recognizable health sciences. Nursing science though is more oriented on patient’s needs as a whole, than the disease itself. Understanding, advocacy, empathy and support are some of the professional standards used in nursing care. Therefore, nurses are expected to work and participate in all kinds of nursing practice. Even under poor conditions of working, nurses are always there, either on the frontline or in the expansion of research-based knowledge. Nurses are also there to stand up for human rights, confidentiality, ethical approach, equitable socio-economic standards, which allow for delivery of high quality nursing care. 

Prof Dr Eugenia Vlachou