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It’s time to celebrate our nurses

The World Health Organization, in partnership with the International Congress of Nurses, has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

We all know that nurses are the backbone of our health system. Whether they work in the community, long-term care, hospital, or other settings. Every day nurses are impacting the lives of patients, clients, and residents across Ontario. And this year, that impact is going to be put front and center on the international stage.

The World Health Organization, in partnership with the International Congress of Nurses, has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. This year-long recognition is intended to “celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face, and advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce.” Right now, nursing shortages are putting the health of populations across the world at risk and, with this renewed focus, the hope is to generate new attention on the need to support our nurses. WHO estimates to achieve the goal of universal health by 2030, we need to add 9 million more nurses and midwives.

In Canada, we know we’re not immune from many of the challenges faced on the international stage. While we’re lucky to have a stable supply of RPNs, we’re expecting to see a shortage of our RN colleagues on the horizon. At the same time, we’re facing issues retaining our nurses because of the increasing demands and pressures they’re facing on the job. In my hometown of Windsor, I’m hearing from colleagues facing growing stress trying to deliver the kind of care they want to their patients.

But, while we want to shed light on the realities facing our profession, this year also gives us a chance to celebrate the many achievements we’ve made together. Throughout my 40-year career, I’ve been amazed to see how the role of the RPN has changed so dramatically. Starting my career as a nursing assistant, we fought long and hard to be recognized as nurses.

We’ve seen our education grow, and our scope of practice evolve in response. And more and more, we’ve witnessed RPNs take on new and exciting leadership roles. Throughout it all, we’ve continued to champion our greatest passion, which is supporting and caring for our patients, residents, and clients and advocacy for positive change in health care.

I’m looking forward to spending 2020, celebrating the fantastic work we do as nurses, and making sure all my nurse colleagues and friends know how much they mean to me. How will you be celebrating this year?

Across Ontario and Canada, nursing organizations will be showcasing our profession, and I encourage you to take part. Here are just a few ways you can join in the celebrations:

  • Visit to learn more about the Year of the Nurse and how we’re honoring nurses.
  • Encourage your employer to plan an event or activity to celebrate all categories of nurses in your workplace.
  • Grow your nursing knowledge by attending an educational event or participating in a continuing education course
  • Think about mentorship! Whether you’re a new nurse or just looking for a change, accessing a mentor can help you reach your goals. Or, if you’re an experienced nurse, consider how you can share your wisdom and experience with a colleague.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Have you been thinking about changing roles, joining a committee or seeking out a new leadership opportunity? Make 2020 the year you realize your goals.

Whatever you do, make sure you take a moment to recognize how important the work you do is and the tremendous impact it has on the lives of so many.

Thank you and Happy Year of the Nurse!


Linda Keirl, RPN
Past President, WeRPN

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