Pioneer of Modern Nursing & Year of the Nurse and Midwife- 2020

Mar 10, 2020 | Aussie Nurse

World Health Organisation- WHO has declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Its an opportunity to recognise the profession as there are 20 million nurses around the world



International Nurses Day is usually observed annually on May 12th, which commemorates Florence Nightingales birth and celebrates the important role of nurses in health care. This year 2020 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.


Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore. – Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale Facts-

  • Florence Nightingale – was on born in Italy on May 12th 1820 and Florence -died August 13th 1910 in London,   England
  • Florence gave personal care to wounded soldiers during night rounds and thats how she became known as the “Lady with the Lamp”.
  • She was well educated and a statistician, also she was able to read and write French, German, Italian, Greek and Latin.
  • Florence knew from a young age that it was her calling to care for others and at 24 years old she went to Dusseldorf, Germany where she studied Nursing, but not without defying her parents to follow this path.
  • During the Crimea war the British Press portrayed the horrendous conditions that the wounded soldiers were in. Florence was requested to attend these soldiers and on arriving she found conditions were filthy, supplies inadequate, staff uncooperative, and severe overcrowding and the death rate of the soldiers was unacceptable. 
  • Nightingale established standards of care such as basic necessities as bathing, clean clothing, clean linen, dressings and adequate food. She reduced the death rate of soldiers by vast numbers (true statistics are unknown).
  • On her first excursion to Crimea she fell ill with “Crimean fever”-  brucellosis, possibly from drinking contaminated milk. The effects of the disease lasted for many decades, frequently confining her to bed because of severe chronic pain.
  • On returning back to London and from private donations, she establish the first scientifically based nursing school—the Nightingale School of Nursing, at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London in 1860.
  • FlorenceNightingale was honoured by becoming the first woman to receive the Order Of Merit (1907). And, she was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society.

So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.

– Florence Nightingale

Why is 2020 Year Of The Nurse so important now?

WHO has marked 2020 as The Year Of The Nurse as to increase recognition in areas of- 

  • The shortage of nurses as a global issue– WHO recognises the world-wide trend of needing 9 million more nurses and midwives by 2030, the implications of the workforce becoming overworked and stretched affects health outcomes to patients, as the quality of care is impacted and confidence may be lost for nurses as well. 
  • For the profession of nurses to have more recognition– The current image and narrative of nursing at times is regarded as “doctors” helpers, this leaves a feeling of being undervalued and impacts on professional self-esteem. This image of nursing, may discourage younger generations choosing nursing as a career option. To break the misconceptions, challenge and effect change, more nurses are needed to be involved in areas of policy change working with both politicians and policy-makers.
  • Have more of a diverse workforce with more males– Globally, nurses and midwives represent a large portion of the health and social workforce with 70% of the workforce being women. Raising the profile of male nurses is important as to be surrounded by the best possible people in the workforce. The strength of diversity is bringing a vast range of people with different qualities together.
  • Increasing education investment & job creation– Investment in education & job creation results in improved knowledge and skills which impacts overall delivery of healthcare. The return of increased education is improved long term health outcomes and with more jobs it supports economic growth within a country. 
  • Increasing universal health coverage globally– Universal healthcare offers everyone and anyone healthcare no matter what their socio-economic circumstances are. The long term effects are reduction in poverty levels and improved welfare of population health, in turn universal healthcare benefits health, economics and political systems. 


— Nursing Now- Nightingale Challenge —

The Nightingale Challenge is asking health employers around the world to provide leadership and develop training for a group of young nurses and midwives during 2020. The aim is to have at least 20,000 nurses and midwives aged 35 and under benefitting from this campaign in 2020.

Globally there are 80 countries taking part and the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is the lead organisation within Australia driving this campaign (



Knowing a little of the history of Florence Nightingale and how she sensed the needs of the wounded soldiers, led her in a role that was pivotal as she was a change maker. She was able to bring knowledge and resources together, whilst organising in a revolutionary way by forming changes that saved lives. Then she started to establish education as essential for the future of the nursing profession, that was outstanding as it led to woman gaining employment outside of the ‘house’.

Having someone like Florence Nightingale who was a pioneer for nurses is extremely inspirational, we can see her example and develop the profession into the future and with 2020 The Year Of The Nurse we are uniting on a global scale, which is exciting for the future of our profession.


Social Media Hashtags –






Additional Resources- 

  1. International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now. Welcome 2020 as International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife-
  1. The Florence Nightingale Museum (London, UK)-
  1. WHO Campaigns, Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020-
  1. Florence Nightingale and the changing face of nursing. The “Year of the Nurse” will highlight the potential- and the problems- awaiting future Nightingales-
  1. Australian College of Nursing – ACN is the lead organisation for the Nursing Now Australia campaign-
  1. Nursing Now- Nightingale Challenge Brochure-


(Photo by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash)

The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.

– Florence Nightingale

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