Despite some traumatic stories in the press, the majority of us believe passionately in what nurses are and what they do.
They are the largest workforce in the NHS and its heart. International Nurses’ Day is an opportunity to promote everything that is good about nursing and help the public regain confidence in the profession.
When nursing became an all-graduate profession, I was immensely proud. We need nurses who are able to critically analyse and evaluate as well as demonstrate practical competency.
The role of a nurse has fundamentally changed from when I started my career in 1978. Nurses are no longer a doctor’s handmaiden but a thinking professional in their own right. We’ve seen other changes too. Advances in medicine, research and technology have massively informed care. And the voice of the patient is getting louder.
“We must promote nursing as a great profession with diverse career paths across research, academia, leadership and practice”
We urgently need to identify tomorrow’s nursing leaders, not just in the clinical nursing profession, but in research and education too.
We need to look for ways to share best practice and what works well so that we can continually improve what we offer patients. We need to continually develop nursing research. And nurses have to believe in themselves, and stand up for their profession and their patients.
All of us will need a nurse at some stage in our lives. I know that when I do, I will want to be cared for by the very best.
I feel privileged that I have a role in influencing the training of the next generation of nurses. I want everyone to say: “Wow, the care I received made me feel special. It made a difference.”
Professor Helen Langton is Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of South Wales, and is a registered nurse with a clinical background in paediatric oncology