After a long year, UBC Okanagan’s school of nursing director has reflected on the rollercoaster of a year and how the events of the novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the significance of nurses in today’s society.
She believes 2020 has shone a light on nursing professionals and the key role they play in our health care system.
“I think the important role of the nurse has been long overlooked in many ways,” said Marie Tarrent.
“Within a hospital setting, the most important intervention in a patient’s progress and recovery is expert nursing care.”
Tarrent goes on to explain, “Surgeries and other medical interventions can only be effective if there are skilled nurses to care for and monitor patients.”
2020 was dubbed International Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the beginning of the year.
But it wasn’t because of the work that was going to be required due to the pandemic.
“The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030,” wrote WHO staff in a release.
“That’s why the World Health Assembly has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.”
Tarrent said the pandemic has forever changed the way society views nurses and midwives.
“The pandemic has highlighted how essential and impactful nurses are every day in the lives of their patients,” said Tarrent.
“Nurses have been on the front lines of the pandemic and sadly have been the health care professional most likely to be infected and to die from COVID-19.”
Over 1,500 nurses have died from COVID-19, according to the university director.
Nurses have also had to deal with extreme emotional trauma, as they are often the only person with COVID-19 patients as they pass away, according to Tarrent.
Tarrent said that is an issue that will have ramifications on the profession for years to come.
“It has been heartening to see all of the public support for nurses and other health care professionals over the past year,” said Tarrent.
“Nurses will always be there at the forefront of health care.”