International Nurses’ Day 2021

International Nurses’ Day 2021 – Celebrating Innovation and Leadership

International Nurses’ Day is celebrated on May 12th – the day of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Since the days of Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, nurses have been at the forefront of healthcare innovation. The International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of over 130 national nurses’ associations representing more than 27 million nurses across the globe, recognises and celebrates the contributions made by nurses around the world. 

The theme for International Nurses’ Day 2021 is A voice to lead: A vision for future healthcare. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and old ways of working were suddenly untenable, it was nurses who “lead the revolution” to create new ways of improving access to care, according to the ICN. 

From ingenious ideas such as disposable pouches to allow nurses to carry more equipment into isolation rooms, to providing physical therapy to children at home via virtual reality games, nurses’ agile thinking meant more patients got the care they so desperately needed. 

Clear plastic face shields are now a common sight from supermarket staff to post carriers, but many of us won’t realise that this is partly due to the expertise of Ellen Smithline, a US nurse with experience working in the SARS and Ebola crises. 

Ellen advised the team at University of Massachusetts Amherst to apply an anti fog coating to the inside of the shield, and asked her husband to design an extra long strap to accommodate different hair types and styles. Because of Ellen’s 35 years of experience, she was able to foresee problems that otherwise may have been missed. 

Adapting leadership styles

Nurses responsible for running busy treatment areas have had to adapt the way they lead to both support their staff, and ensure that patients’ needs continue to be met. 

While nurses are no strangers to leadership, the demands of the pandemic, which included staff shortages, an increased demand for services, fears over equipment shortages, and stressed and anxious staff, required them to acquire new skills – and quickly. 

How nurses choose to lead is a key aspect in maintaining morale among colleagues. Great nurse leaders raise confidence within their team, and ensure they feel appreciated, respected and cared for while caring for others. This has never been more important than during the high stress environment of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The future of healthcare

Chief executive of the ICN Howard Catton, described the pandemic as opening up an opportunity to “call for a reset” and “explore new models of care where nurses are at the centre of our health systems”.

“We can only achieve this vision of future healthcare by generating new policies that pave the way for this sea-change and that is another key area IND2021 will seek to focus on.”

It’s clear that whether under the extreme pressures of a pandemic or not, nurses have always been on the front line of patient care. International Nurses’ Day 2021 will focus on encouraging nurses to continue to innovate and to use their experience, vast knowledge base and compassionate leadership skills to play an integral part in planning how future healthcare will look. 

Pulse Nursing wants to thank you

Here at Pulse we’re privileged to work with expert, compassionate nurses. We see how hard you work and the difference you make to patients, families and the healthcare system, every single day. 

So, this International Nurses’ Day – and every other – we’re saying thank you. 


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