Last week was a difficult one for many reasons. One reason was the fact I was both under the weather and concurrently under the cosh to produce a major piece of work for the University by last Friday. My throat seemed to be the focal point for my ailments and at one point I was spraying, sucking, drinking, rubbing and inhaling so many different chemical and medicinal ingredients I was in danger of glowing after dark. The self-prescribed cocktail of popular cures seems to have worked as I can now once again speak, swallow and eat and drink. When my children and grandchildren ask how I know what to do when ill – I smile and say 'that’s because I’m a nurse'.
Since 1965 nurses all over the world have, once a year celebrated International Nurses Day. In 1974 today, the 12th May was chosen to celebrate the day as the 12th May is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale in 1820. And so it’s been ever since. The UK public sector union Unison tried, in 1999, to persuade the International Council of Nursing to transfer Nurses Day to another date saying Florence Nightingale didn't represent modern nursing. Thankfully, Unisons efforts failed, as did the misguided attempt by the UK Education Secretary, Michael Grove to remove all traces of Mary Seacole, from the national curriculum so as to make room for a greater educational focus on people like Winston Churchill, and Oliver Cromwell.
Our School has its base in the Mary Seacole Building at the University of Salford, and we are proud that the building in which over 700 students start their nursing career each year bears the name of someone as famous as Florence Nightingale was for demonstrating what care can actually mean to others.
Despite recent uninformed and negative media suggesting that today’s nurses are to educated to care – often heuristically presented as being ‘to posh to wash’ modern nurses are skilled, knowledgeable and responsible for making sure patients receive the most appropriate care, in evidence based ways. Many senior and specialist nurses are highly qualified and have highly developed clinical skills enabling them to diagnose, prescribe treatment including medication, and lead inter-professional health care teams.
Our pre-qualifying nursing programmes attract men and women with diverse backgrounds, skills and qualities. We have applicants of all ages, and we adopt a values based approach to our recruitment processes and decision making. We were doing this before the UK governments recent announcement of its vision of compassionate nursing called the 6Cs – care, compassion, competence; communication; courage; commitment.
As a School, we are marking the day through a Nurses Day Conference on the 14th May. The conference provides an opportunity to celebrate nursing, recognise and appreciate the professions history, where it is today and what nurses in different fields of practice and clinical situations are engaged in in terms of the future nursing profession. It promises to be a great day. And best of all, I will now be able to do the welcome address!