Pioneer staff
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Nursing awareness week (which this year is May 10 to May 16) brings public, policy-makers and leaders of the nation’s governments together to recognize the valuable contributions nurses make to the health and well-being of all Canadians.

Five decades ago, in 1971, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) recognized May 12 as International Nurses Day, the anniversary of British nurse, statistician, and social reformer Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale, often considered the founder of modern nursing, was born May 12, 1820. Members of the Canadian Nurse Association passed a resolution in 1985 encouraging the federal government to formally recognize the week including May 12 as National Nurses Week each year. The federal health minister soon afterwards proclaimed the second week of May as National Nurses Week.

We have become aware, more than ever, of the importance of the nursing profession. The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but those working with challenging conditions in hospitals have, of course, dealt with a good deal more difficulties this past year than most people.

In January 2021, the ICN sent out a press release that drew attention to the physical effects resulting from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of mental health on nurses. As a result, ICN has called this phenomenon “mass traumatization” for the nursing workforce in general and urged governments to act in support of nurses and handle these issues immediately. COVID-19 is real, and threatens to harm nursing professions for generations to come. Added to nurse staffing shortages and an aging nursing workforce, the COVID-19 effect could lead to a 13 million nurse shortfall by 2030, according to ICN. More than 90 per cent of the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) worry that heavy workloads and inadequate resourcing, burnout and stress related to pandemic response could be the main reasons for the increased number of nurses who are leaving their profession, and the reported rate of intent to leave.

Nurses are an essential part of almost every health care team, as they play key roles in promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing and tackling diseases of all types, and treating sick people. The Pioneer wishes to thank all of our local nurses for what they are doing during this difficult time for us, our families, friends and our community.