*By Lissy Sudesh

International Nurses Day is celebrated across the world every year on 12th May, the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing profession. She is also known as THE LADY WITH THE LAMP and the day is to mark the contributions that nurses make to the society. Nurses are the backbone for a healthy society. During this pandemic, their extraordinary contribution has proved their dedication and hard work. Nursing is a noble and rewarding profession that one can choose as career.

Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well in all the settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. The nurse is a person who has completed a program of basic, generalized nursing education and is authorized by the appropriate regulatory authority to practice nursing in his/her country. The various nursing programmes includes

1) Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife course (2 years) to function as registered ANM.

2) General Nursing and Midwifery course (3years) to function as registered nurse and midwife (RN RM)

3) Basic B.Sc Nursing (4 years) to function as registered nurse and midwife (RN RM).

Apart from the above basic courses, the other courses offered by different nursing educational institutions as additional qualification are the following;

1) Post basic B.Sc Nursing (2years)

2) M.Sc Nursing in different specialties (2 years)

3) M.Phil in Nursing (1 year)

4) PhD in Nursing (3-5years)

5) Post-doctoral Degree in Nursing.

6) Post Basic Diploma courses in various specialties like Cardio Thoracic Nursing, Neurology Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Emergency and Disaster Nursing etc. (1year duration) are also offered as additional qualification.

Nursing care is extremely important for good patient outcome. Nursing care must be maintained continuously throughout the 24 hours, 365 days in a year. In any hospital set up, while physicians plan the treatment and perform the diagnostic and treatment procedures, it is the nurses who spend more time caring for the patient and looking after all their needs throughout the hospital stay. The success of patient care and the reputation of the hospital depend to a large extent on the efficiency and the tender loving care extended by the nursing staff.

Nurses constitute a large proportion (approximately 50%) of total number of employees in any hospital and Nursing is the single largest departments of the hospital. Nurses are skilled professionals who undergo training and undertake professional course to attain professional status.

Nursing sector and nurses across the world face several issues, problems and challenges. Shortage of staff, poor nurse patient ratio, and lack of recognition are some major problems faced by nurses working in govt. sector. In private sectors nurses are entrusted to overwork with minimum wages which are not in accordance with the accepted norms. The pandemic situation has worsened their situation. Nurses have suffered tremendously throughout the pandemic. They have been unnecessarily exposed to the virus, faced attacks from public, suffered from extreme workload and continue to be underpaid and undervalued.

Nurses need a safe working environment, recognition, decent wages, social acceptance, autonomy and full participation in decision making.

Patients and public have the right to receive the best treatment and services from health care professionals and this can only be achieved by a motivated and well prepared work force.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has selected a theme for this year’s International Nurses Day. “ Nurses: A voice to Lead – invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health”  focusing on the need to protect, support and invest in nursing profession to build a resilient, highly qualified nursing workforce thereby to strengthen health systems around the world.

“A nurse is one who opens the eyes of a new born and gently closes the eyes of a dying man. It is indeed a high blessing to be the first and last to witness the beginning and end of life”

*The author is a Tutor in the School of Nursing attached to the G B Pant Hospital, Port Blair.