Celebrating Our Nurses – Jennifer Oaten
2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The World Health Assembly could not have chosen a better year to celebrate the women and men who are the heart and soul of our health system. Never have they been more important.
Pandemic aside, nurses provide care for us throughout our lives. They are there when we are born, when we have immunisations, when we are ill and when we have broken bones. They are there when we need scans, stitches or surgery or when we are facing the challenges of cancer. In old age and at the end of our lives, our nurses are always there to support and care for us.
The founding of modern nursing
The English woman credited with founding modern nursing was Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910). She was a social reformer and statistician. From a young age, she excelled in mathematics and was able to read and write French, German, Italian, Greek, and Latin. At 16, she had a “calling from God” to help reduce human pain and suffering. For Florence, nursing seemed the best pathway to serve both God and humankind.
During the Crimean War, Florence wandered the wards at night, providing support for the patients. This earned her the title of “the Lady with the Lamp”. It also earned her profession great respect from the soldiers, and in turn, society.
During the war, Nightingale saw firsthand that the majority of men did not die from wounds sustained in battle. They died as a result of infections stemming from squalid conditions, so she endeavoured to take action.
Nightingale knew advancing the nursing profession was critical to improving healthcare. She worked tirelessly throughout her life to establish standards of care, and to develop educational programs for nurses. Nightingale changed the face of nursing from a mostly untrained profession to a highly skilled and well-respected medical profession with important responsibilities.
Healthcare in the Mercy tradition
The Mercy Sisters have been synonymous with health care since they began tending the sick in Dublin, Ireland. Since the first Mercy hospital was established in the US in 1847, the Sisters have served in every capacity in hospitals.
Today, Mercy Health in Australia provides care for many patients through hospitals, residential aged care, and home and community services.
Many of our alumni have continued the proud nursing tradition that is part of our Mercy story. Within the College, we have provided the opportunity for our Year 11 students to study a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance. This qualification can lead to further study in nursing or employment opportunities in the health sector.
We give thanks
In 2020 our nurses are the heroes behind the face masks in hospitals and aged care. They are people from our community, both young and older who go to work every day, on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus.
We honour all nurses who have taken on this vocation and who work tirelessly and selflessly for those in need in our community. We pray for God’s blessing on all nurses and thank them for following in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale and the Sisters of Mercy.