Hats off to all nurses and midwives — it’s going to be a landmark year for you.

That’s because 2020 marks the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a designation coined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The recognition is an effort to elevate the nursing profession and nurses’ vital roles throughout communities.

The campaign also serves as a springboard to ignite another initiative, which sets a worldwide stage to tell real stories about how nurses increase healthcare access to underserved populations. This is especially true for midwives who provide much-needed education and healthcare in developing countries worldwide.

Support for nurses and midwives

In a Facebook interview, Jim Campbell, executive director, Global Health Workforce Alliance and director of the Health Workforce Department at the WHO, discusses the job challenges nurses face.

These challenges often include:

  • Fair pay
  • Education
  • Working conditions, such as access to running water and sanitation
  • Autonomy to do their jobs

He also spoke about how WHO directly supports the nursing and midwifery professions.

“We want to see actions taken,” he said. “We’re supporting governments to look at key policy areas and policy challenges that they may be faced with … and engaging with them in terms of local solutions.”

Campbell went on to say that WHO is not only talking to ministries of health in various nations, but also ministers of labor, finance and employment, using key messages that highlight the benefits of “investing in nurses.”

He mentioned how nurses improve healthcare delivery and gender equality, as well as necessities around employment opportunities for youth to curb the nursing shortage.

Year of the Nurse and Midwife celebration ideas

We reached out to healthcare organizations to get their take on the 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife campaign, and here’s what we found.

1 — Share the campaign in your facility

Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Jill Jarufe, MBA

Besides displaying a digital campaign banner on websites, hang physical banners in your facility at locations with heavy foot traffic, such as hospital entrances, says Jill Jarufe, MBA, team leader with Nealy Pierce, LLC, a healthcare-based executive search firm, in Bend, Ore.

Patient registration areas and cafeterias work well too. Banners travel well, so include them at job fairs, conferences and conventions, she added.

2 — Develop an award program around a Year of the Nurse Midwife theme

“(This) could be a department recognition on a quarterly or monthly basis — something that shows your celebration of the nurses,” Jarufe said.

3 — Extend messaging to future nurses

Think about targeted messaging aimed at the future generation of nurses, Jarufe said. For example, recruiters could visit high schools during career day workshops and incorporate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife into their educational materials.

“It can capture an audience of prospective future nurses who are trying to figure out what they want to do,” Jarufe said. “And, you can talk about why it’s great to be a nurse.”

When using campaigns such as this, Jarufe said it’s important to have a narrative that shows the future generation why nursing is one of the most honest, ethical professions in the world.

“As we consider millennials and younger generations, they will be drawn to this idea as they think about their career,” Jarufe said.

4 — Use campaign as a recruiting tool

Are you planning to use Year of the Nurse and Midwife to attract experienced nurses?

Jarufe’s best advice is to figure out how you will motivate nurses to leave their organization for yours. Nurses expect “tangibles,” not just talk of a desirable hospital culture, she added.

Schedules, salary and benefits are the main criteria nurses care about when taking jobs at new hospitals, according to Jarufe. For example, some nurses want the day shift when they have younger children.

The bottom line is nurses want to know how hospitals plan to better accommodate their needs because nurses have plenty of options.

“A lot of nurses are not considering making a move because they are content, and they are loyal to their hospital, their team, their patients and physicians they work with.”

5 — Examples of organizations celebrating the special year

Hospitals and nonprofits have posted messages on their Facebook pages and websites to recognize the event.

Here’s some examples of how some groups are recognizing nurses with the Year of the Nurse and Midwife campaign:

  • The World Health Organization is sharing details online, including nurse and midwife stories from around the world.
  • Cleveland Clinic announced special recognition of nurses in various specialties and roles throughout the Year of the Nurse and Midwife on its website.
  • “Excel. Lead. Innovate.” is the American Nurses Association theme for the campaign. The organization is conducting a poster contest and encourages nurses to submit photos and selfies.
  • The Daisy Foundation is sharing numerous ideas to help your facility recognize nurses and midwives.

We are excited to see how more hospitals, nursing schools and professional associations plan to promote the campaign.