In January of this year, I began my first president’s column by stating: Today’s health care environment is dynamic, holding an uncertain future. This requires that nurse leaders be prepared, available and engaged to innovate, transform and lead care wherever it occurs. Looking back, none of us could have predicted how much truth there would be in that statement.
2020 will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movement, both of which necessitated nurses at every level lend a hand in whatever way they could—and they did. We have delivered health care in drive-through tents, we have opened additional hospital beds in areas not designed for them, and we have advocated on the streets and in the White House for the safety of our colleagues and our communities.
I remain humbled and honored to serve as your AONL president. As we approach Thanksgiving and the end-of-year holidays, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your leadership of the world’s most trusted and needed profession during this unprecedented time.
Through all of the uncertainty and upheaval in 2020, nurses remained stalwart in their commitment to the well-being of their patients and their communities. The most important thing that I can say . . . is thank you.
Through all of the uncertainty and upheaval in 2020, nurses remained stalwart in their commitment to the well-being of their patients and their communities. The most important thing that I can say to the profession in this moment is thank you. Thank you for the sacrifices that you have made this year: For living apart from your families in order to keep them safe from the virus. For delivering compassionate, high-quality care in rapidly changing circumstances. For going the extra mile to keep families updated on their loved ones when they could not be with them during hospitalization. For advocating for equity in health care and equality in society. And we honor the dedication and ultimate sacrifice of the nurses who lost their lives to COVID-19.
As I sat down to write this column, I reflected on the themes in this year’s issues of Voice of Nursing Leadership: the multigenerational workforce, nursing in the community, interprofessional teams, and practice innovations. These topics became the bedrock for our clinical practice, leadership, advocacy and service to our communities in 2020.
2020 has impacted our personal and professional lives in so many different ways, and the way that we deliver health care will be forever changed as a result. It is awe inspiring to witness the ways you have innovated, mobilized and advocated for your teams and communities while creatively managing staffing and material resource challenges in a manner beyond the scope of anyone’s wildest imagination. As resourceful as nurses are, we are not immune to the challenges that we are leading through and it is so important to make time for self-care. Please consider tapping into your organization’s mental health/personal assistance resources. You also will find additional support in Leading Through Crisis: A Resource Compendium for Nurse Leaders, available on the AONL website.
The year began with the excitement surrounding the World Health Organization’s proclamation that 2020 is Year of the Nurse and Midwife, honoring the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. I believe the founder of our profession would agree that we have overwhelmingly demonstrated our value to global health. We exemplify why nursing continues to be the most trusted profession.
About the Author
AONL Board President Mary Ann Fuchs, DNP, RN, BEA-BC, FAAN, is vice president of patient care & system chief nurse executive, Duke University Health System, associate dean of clinical affairs, Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, N.C.