The Year of the Nurse, designated by the World Health Organization and others, was to be 2020. But in 2020, nurses were too busy fighting a battle with an invisible enemy to acknowledge, “The Year of the Nurse.” 

So the WHO extended the year to 2021. We now are in the middle of the extended Year of the Nurse with Nurse’s Day circling around us. 

Celebrations, parades (socially distant with masks, of course), airplanes writing in the sky, a million balloons gathered in cities near and far do not seem to be fitting enough to acknowledge the profession of nursing this year. 

How do we, with deep gratitude say, thank you?

Thank you to a profession that stepped in and became the family that could not visit because of restrictions. Those same individuals assured that no one died alone and held the hand of our loved ones when we could not.

Thank you to a profession that did not know in the beginning what the rules of the fight would be, yet still said, “I am here and willing.”

Thank you to a profession that early on in the pandemic was labeled, “HEROES,” yet they did not feel that they were. They would publicly say, “I am doing my job.”  A hero is a person who is admired for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. They were, and are, heroes in every sense of the definition. 

Thank you to a profession that suited up everyday in masks, gowns, gloves and face shields, working tirelessly in products that were designed to be worn for shorter periods of time. Many times, faces bruised and indented by the very products worn for protection.

Thank you to a profession that has seen the best and worst of humanity and still forged ahead knowing that individuals need help and care. Many times, finding support in closed social media groups as public groups attacked them for standing up and speaking out based upon their knowledge and training. 

Thank you to a profession that carries the scars of the pandemic with them each and every day. Memories drifting into their minds when it is least expected and typically is at the most lonely of times. 

I was asked once in an interview about the role that nursing plays in healthcare. I answered that nursing is the glue that holds our healthcare together. Little did I know that the profession would need to be superglue in the face of the pandemic. 

How do we say thank you this year, and forward?  We say thank you by acknowledging nursing not by the tasks we do, but the impact that we have as a profession.

We as a collective society say “thank you” by not forgetting the role and contribution that nursing has to our health and well-being. 

Martie L. Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, has been an executive healthcare leader for more than 20 years. She has served on advisory boards for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and the American Nurses Association, and she currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing and Sigma. She recently was honored by Saint’s Martin’s University with an honorary doctorate degree for her service and accomplishments in advancing healthcare.