The past several years have been some of the more trying times for our profession; we’ve put our lives and the lives of our loved ones at risk throughout the pandemic, battled exhaustion, working long hours with increased workloads amidst critical staffing shortages, and suffered from stress, burnout and worsening mental health problems.
What has also suffered over the past several years is pride in our profession. The findings of WeRPN’s annual survey, “The State of Nursing in Ontario: A 2023 Review”, show an alarming erosion of pride in nursing among RPNs since the onset of the pandemic. As we look to the future, it’s never been more important for us to come together as a community of nurses to rebuild a strong and connected profession that we can be proud of.
In 2020, as our provincial healthcare system faced unprecedented challenges, 67% of nurses in Ontario expressed an unwavering sense of pride in being an RPN. In the face of adversity, our profession demonstrated resilience, compassion and dedication to our patients and communities. We stood united, drawing strength from our shared commitment to the noble calling of nursing.
Fast forward three years, and we find ourselves confronted with a stark reality – pride in nursing has plummeted to a mere 31%. The once vibrant morale of 7 in 10 nurses has suffered, leaving them to admit that their pride in nursing has worsened over the past year. These numbers are more than mere statistics; they reflect the toll the pandemic, understaffing, stagnant compensation, and more have taken on our profession’s emotional and mental well-being.
Now is the time to take action to heal, reconnect and revitalize our sense of pride in nursing. Our professional association plays a crucial role in this journey. Through active engagement with our association, we can harness our community’s collective strength. Let us come together, share our experiences and identify strategies to overcome the challenges that have led to this decline in pride.
Mentorship is another potent tool that we must harness to reignite passion within our profession. As experienced RPNs, I encourage you to contact our newer colleagues to provide guidance, support and encouragement. Mentorship is a powerful way to impart knowledge, instill confidence and foster a sense of belonging to empower the next generation of nurses to take pride in their profession.
I know it’s said a lot, but we also have to recognize the importance of self-care as we navigate the complexities of nursing today. The demands of our profession can be overwhelming, but we can’t support our patients, clients or residents without first supporting our well-being and nurturing a culture of self-compassion. By caring for ourselves, we can continue to care for others.
In addition to self-care, let us also be mindful of the well-being of our colleagues. Reach out to your fellow nurses, check how they are doing and offer a listening ear. Sometimes, all it takes is a small act of kindness to rekindle the pride within someone feeling disheartened or isolated.
Beyond these individual efforts, let us come together with a united voice to advocate for systemic changes that will support the well-being of nurses and return nursing to a profession we can all take pride in. We must engage with healthcare leaders and policymakers to address the root causes of the decline in morale and find solutions that promote a positive and nurturing work environment for all.
As we embark on this journey to rebuild pride in nursing, let us remember that we are not alone. We have each other, our professional association and a shared commitment to excellence in healthcare. Together, we can overcome the challenges that have dampened our spirits and emerge stronger, more united and more determined to uphold the values that define our noble profession. Through our collective efforts, engagement with the association, mentorship, self-care and support for our colleagues, we can pave the way toward a brighter and more promising future for nursing in Ontario.
Dickon Worsley, RPN