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2020: Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

2020: Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

The World Health Organization has declared 2020 the year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Our new Director, School of Nursing, Dr. Erna Snelgrove-Clarke reflects on the importance of this declaration and what it means for the profession of nursing, and the populations that nurses serve.


Despite varying reports, by 2030, the global nursing shortage will reach the staggering number of nine million. 2020 is the year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Designated by the World Health Organization, this year we honor the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale and in turn, the many nurses who play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention, and the delivery of care.

Nurses and midwives represent more than 50% of the global health workforce. The ongoing and increasing shortage of nurses and midwives will have a devastating impact on our health worldwide. In this, the year of the Nurse and the Midwife, it is time to reflect and to take charge. Achieving health for all depends on the education provided and the numbers of nurses we educate. It is our responsibility to ensure we are ready to meet health demands and to have nurses prepared to support this demand.

What does Nursing look like in Canada? Over the past five years, the annual growth rate has declined. Interestingly, this growth rate increases 1% per year and is similar to the Canadian population growth trend. Effective planning and management for healthcare requires careful consideration.

What do we know about health outcomes and university prepared nurses? In 2014, researchers reported that BSN prepared nurses’ both lower patient mortality and better patient outcomes when the proportion of BSN prepared staff nurses increased by 10%. That is, increasing education initiatives enables nurses to care more knowledgably for the patients for whom they provide care and ultimately improve outcomes.

Decision-making, critical thinking, and evidence-informed care are core competencies of a Queen’s nursing graduate. Growing demands for health-related knowledge and advanced competencies, in a world of ever-changing knowledge, require us to educate and graduate nurses who are prepared to meet the challenges of today’s healthcare system.

What can we expect to see in the provision of care? An aging population and increase health complexities; support required for mental health related issues and a nursing leadership ready to navigate the changing healthcare landscape.

What do we need to do? We need to be ready and we need to get ready! Our approaches to education need to be creative and innovative. Technological advances require us to reach out and explore all possibilities. Collaborative and interdisciplinary research will ensure we capture the depth and scope of initiatives required to transfer knowledge into practice and improve health outcomes.

In this, the year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the Queen’s School of Nursing is making these preparations. We are collaborating with healthcare providers to close that gap between research and practice, we are applying at increasing rates and increasing our successes with tri council funding, and we are growing out health quality endeavours. Supporting nurses to work to their full potential, it is not simply about the quantity of nurses but also the quality. Working collaboratively with educators, administrators, and government we will realize the full scope of nursing. Let’s celebrate our nurses: those providing and those receiving education, those researching to advance our health and well-being, and those providing care in the hospital, the community, and the home. When we value all persons in the context of care, healthful outcomes will be realized.


Dr. Erna Snelgrove-Clarke
Vice-Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and Director School of Nursing

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