Florence Nightingale

The 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale

On the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the WHO declared 2020 to be the International Year of the Nurse in January 2019. The official proposal was intended to recognize nurses and midwives as being the bridge of healthcare, on the “frontlines”.

2020 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, May 12, 1920. Florence Nightingale is the founder of the nursing profession. Proposing 2020 to be the International Year of the Nurse was recognizing the need to celebrate people like her who contributed greatly to humanity.

Now, well into the year of 2020, nurses are truly on the front lines of a war. Nurses are nationally recognized as heroes, every single day!! Stories of Grief and Triumph are shared daily throughout social media and news networks. Nurses, themselves, are sharing stories of not wanting to be heroes, they need to feel human, needing to feel safe, needing to feel cared for, and protected.

A recent article, a Viewpoint, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), April 7, “summarizes key considerations for supporting the health care workforce so health care professionals are equipped to provide care for their patients and communities, based on experience, direct requests from healthcare professionals, and common sense.”

In response to the question “what do you need?”, the responses were summarized as follows:
– Hear me
– Protect me
– Prepare me
– Support me
– Care for me

“Honor and gratitude reinforce the compassion of healthcare workers.”

When nurses are being cared for, listened to, protected, supported, prepared with resources, there is no compassion fatigue.

Compassion is always energizing, never fatiguing. Compassion is the shift in the inner landscape when in the presence of another human being who is suffering. Compassion is connecting and healing, and always energizing.

But we can only hold space for other people, listen and bear witness to the stories of pain, suffering and trauma, if we ourselves are inwardly present and connected to our feeling self. What is difficult is presencing, being fully present, and seeing the other person, when our life energy is depleted. This is not due to “compassion fatigue”, but unintegrated trauma.

Nurses are unique, many share having a strong sense of purpose, being called into nursing as a profession. But what happens when we no longer have the energy to do what we are called to do? Not compassion fatigue, but a trauma we may not on the surface be aware of.

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