Today is International Nurses’ Day and I wanted to reflect on the journey our profession has travelled over the years, to our current day position and importantly our ambitions for the future.
Back in 1860, the Nightingale Training School opened at St Thomas’s in London. Nursing and midwifery became an established ‘taught’ profession. By 1887, nursing registration of the day became established. And in 1916 – little over 100 years ago – the Royal College of Nursing was established with just 34 members.
Fast forward to 1951, just 70 years ago and male nurses are allowed to join the professional register. What an anthropological advance whereby female professionals established and owned a career path before our male counterparts. I hasten to add, the workforce of 2022 is reflective of so much change, and we continue to strive for equity for all.
The world has changed immeasurably in the last 100 years. The way in which we deliver our health and care services has evolved. And with this – the role of a registered nurse.
Since I commenced my own career as a registered nurse, there have been some really exciting developments that reflect the possibilities of the role – nurses being able to prescribe, the role becoming a degree level profession and on personal reflection, my own journey to becoming your chief executive.
I understand and know your journey as a nurse within our organisation. And I know how our nursing fraternity is at the front and centre of all that we do, not only in delivering patient care but also in driving innovation and ambition for the profession.
Working as a nurse is a huge privilege
Working as a nurse is a huge privilege – dealing with the most important human facet of all, our health and wellbeing. With that in mind, I want to encourage all of our nursing teams today to reflect on their own health and wellbeing and that of their colleagues. How we work with one another and build each other up can really make a difference to how we feel, and indeed how we deliver our roles and service.
I was reminded today of the phrase ‘colleagueship’ – defined as the ‘state of being a colleague’. It’s so much more than that when you work as part of the NHS. Your teams, your counterparts and your wider support services become your network of professional, and at times personal support.
Let’s continue to build on our compassion and our ambition for our profession. I would urge all of our nursing colleagues to think about their own development plan – what next? What can you change or positively disrupt for nursing across Teesside, the North East and North Cumbria and of course on a national platform. Keep being the voice and the drive and making the positive changes for the people that matter most – our patients.
Happy International Nurses’ Day to you all. You are valued and I am so very proud to work as your chief executive.