The 12th of May is International Nurses Day and The World Health Assembly has declared 2020 the International Year of Nurses and Midwives, with a special focus on professionals without whom the health care system can no longer be imagined. In addition, this year the world's first global nursing report “Nursing 2020” was published and is reviewed in detail in the reports of the European Association for Palliative Care. One of the author of the publications “Building the Next Generation of Nursing Leaders” is a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University (VU), head of the Nursing and Palliative Medicine Clinic of the Centre Polyclinic and founder of the Baltic Palliative Care Association Marius Čiurlionis.
Nurses Give Away a Part of Themselves Every Day
“Nurses make up the largest healthcare workforce in the world. Every day millions of nurses come to work in order to give away a part of themselves and ensure comprehensive patient care and there is very little room for error. The field of nursing is expanding; services delivery is constantly improving; staff qualifications are growing. For these reasons, public attention to these health professionals is increasing. The issue is particularly sensitive when it comes to caring for patients with serious and incurable diseases,” Marius Čiurlionis stated.
In both daily and extreme treatment conditions, the nursing professional is the person closest to the patient, the longest interacting with him or her, often making personal contact, comforting, and inspiring: “It is like a driving axis of the health system, a mediator carrying the interactions between the doctor, patient and the relatives.”
According to M. Čiurlionis, nurses often stay with the patient 24 hours a day and together with doctors make decisions about the patient’s health care, starting with assessment of patient’s health, scheduling of care and up to implementation and assessment of nursing outcome.
Palliative care is a particularly sensitive and responsible area. The professionals who work in it use different approaches to provide healthcare to patients in the last stages of their lives that is why the skills and knowledge of nurses is extremely important. According to M. Čiurlionis, the leadership is about to change entirely in the near future and modern nursing professionals need to start developing innovative leadership programs: “It is necessary to provide training and develop nursing skills to expand access to services and address current and future challenges in nursing and palliative care.”
In Lithuania, more than 24,000 nursing specialists are currently providing nursing services. 22 thousand of them work in the health care system, others in the social security and labour, education and science, national defence and internal affairs.
“Nursing leaders today are not just nursing service organizers, administrators or managers. Nurses working in hospices, nursing wards, or nursing homes, providing nursing services in palliative care departments or institutions become everyday heroes. Exclusively they show examples of endless sacrifice, divine calling and devotion to their profession,” Marius Čiurlionis emphasized.
Special Education and Trainings for the Work of Nurses Are Needed
Vilnius University pays great attention to the training of nurses. In 2019, the Faculty of Medicine launched modern nursing bachelor’s and master’s degree study programmes that are unique in Lithuania. Four groups of undergraduate students and one group of advanced practice nursing graduates are currently completing the first academic year. Additional nursing studies and master’s degree studies are best suited for the future leaders, for those who plan to develop nursing science and be clinical leaders in nursing practice. University studies provide deeper knowledge, broader competencies and skills.
International Nurses Day is celebrated on the birthday of the English nurse Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) by decision of the International Committee of the Red Cross. This famous woman has become a symbol of compassion and sacrifice for the suffering person, while working at a hospital during the Crimean War in Turkey she organized the treatment and care of the wounded and later became the first provider of nursing courses in England. Later, her trainings spread throughout the world. F. Nightingale believed that nursing was a divine calling, a science, and an art.
On International Nurses' Day, VU Faculty of Medicine congratulates all the followers of F. Nightingale who are dedicating their lives to nursing. Representatives of this respectable profession, nursing researchers, lecturers, students and all enthusiasts who care about the future of nursing in Lithuania and the world are invited to be acquainted in more detail with Marius Čiurlionis' thoughts on leadership in nursing here.