Happy International Nurses Day

Every day of every year nurses all around the world do something incredible to help those in need. Whether they are nurturing patients on their road to recovery, gently supporting them through treatment or offering a shoulder for families to lean on during a difficult time, the work of our nurses is invaluable.

Today, Friday, May 12, marks International Nurses Day, a day dedicated to recognising the enormous contribution nurses make not just at the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, but all around the world. And as we celebrate our incredible nurses, we also want to take the time to say a heartfelt thank you - two words that hold so much meaning and are even better expressed through this special video message from our patients and written message from Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Debra Cutler.

"I would like to wish all of our nurses and midwives at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network a very Happy International Nurses Day.  I would also like to acknowledge and thank you all on behalf of the network for your strength, commitment, kindness and care you provide to our patients and their families.

Last financial year, we provided care to over 50,000 admissions, greater than 96,000 emergency presentations and in excess of 1.2million non-admitted patients.  SCHN is the largest paediatric and child health service in Australia. 

The length of time we care for our patients varies:  for some it may be just a few hours whilst for others it is for much longer.  Many of our patients develop longer-term relationships with us, and many remain in our care until they transition to adult health services.  But no matter how much time they spend with us, all of our patients are vitally important and the knowledge, skills, compassion and warmth of our nurses and midwives can make a lasting difference to the experience of our patients and their families.

International Nurses Day is celebrated each year around the world on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.  To celebrate International Nurses Day this year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) has chosen the theme Nurses: A voice to lead-achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as the focus for nurses around the world.

The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and consist of 17 defined goals to which the UN Member States have agreed should be achieved by 2030.  Australia is a founding member of the United Nations.  The defined goals include: ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education and combating climate change.

The aim of the International Council of Nurses is to raise awareness of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals within our profession, to develop a better understanding of why they matter and to also raise awareness of the contributions that nurses are already making to achieving them.

Nurses are indispensable providers of health care to communities in all settings and can clearly make a difference in achieving the UN’s goals.  In particular, I think nurses can make a significant difference to improving nutrition, as well as in improving health and well-being and providing quality education.  The goals are relevant to all of us in both our professional and personal lives.  Each one of you can and is having an impact.

For example,the World Health Organisation considers that poor nutrition is the single most important threat to the world’s health.  It is well documented that good nutrition improves both a child’s growth and development as well as their performance at school.  This improves their future opportunities.  Whilst we are caring for our patients and their families, we can play a role in improving their nutrition and also identifying and reducing childhood obesity. 

How else can we help to achieve the SDG’s? The ICN believes that we (nurses) are already doing it.   The contribution of nurses to the health service is immeasurable. You provide care for your patients and their carers 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  As nurses, we have an appreciation that no 2 patients are the same, and that no 2 days are identical.  Each day is filled with excitement and challenges, is full of variety and the unexpected.

Education can also affect a person’s health condition and their personal health choices.  Every nurse and midwife has a significant role to play through the delivery of care, assessing needs, designing policy and evaluating effectiveness and outcomes.  We can apply our knowledge and skills to create a healthier and better world.

We can have a voice at every level of decision making.  We can influence and contribute to policy.  We can become involved.  As nurse leaders we are responsible for providing education, for ensuring effective governance of our professional standards, for workforce planning, conducting and maintaining high quality research and for designing and developing models of care.  These are critical to the achievement of the SCHN Nursing and Midwifery Service Plan, which was developed by our nurses to assist our organisation to be even more successful.  

I would like to encourage you to be “a voice to lead”, as individuals, as part of the multidisciplinary team within the network and as a profession.

It is important to acknowledge our achievements not only on a local and state level within our network, and this is something we already strive to do.  This year though, the ICN is also aiming to highlight the outstanding work carried out by millions of nurses and midwives around the world as they strive to care for their communities, and thereby contribute to achieving the UNs Sustainable Development Goals.  I strongly encourage you to read the ICN document “Nurses A Voice to Lead”.

Nursing is an extremely rewarding career.I have found it is a career where the more you put in, the more you get out.  And the rewards often come from the most unexpected places:  the rapport you develop with your patients and their families, the friendships you develop with colleagues, and the deep feeling that you are making a difference to someone’s life.  These experiences can be very personal and humbling and define what it really means to be a nurse. 

I am continually inspired by the commitment and care of our nursing and midwifery staff and truly appreciate the work you do every day to make a difference to the health of our patients, and to health services in our local communities, state and nation.

Today, and throughout the coming year, let’s celebrate our achievements and use our voices to lead and inspire action to create a healthier world.

I would like to wish you all a very happy International Nurses Day and hope that you all have a wonderful day of celebrations across the Network.

I would also like to congratulate the recipients of our Nursing and Midwifery Awards and Research Grants.  They are:

  • Elizabeth Infold – Above and Beyond All Expectation award of excellence
  • Joanna Titter ton – Workforce category Award
  • Brad Ceely – Leadership category Award
  • Renee Gengaroli – Education category Award
  • Jillian Lotoaniu – Clinical Care category Award
  • Vanessa Da Silva – Advocacy and Caring category Award
  • Suzanne Sheppard-Law – Research category Award

I am particularly looking forward to hearing who will be the winner of the Annual Bed making competition.

Thank you all, your work is invaluable and you make such a difference to so many patients."