Monday, 6 January 2020

Let’s Welcome in 2020… The Year of the Nurse and Midwife

The Global Nursing Profession Must Speak with One Voice

Catherine Best

The declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May 2019, that 2020 would be The Year of the Nurse and Midwife affirms the significant commitment and contribution that nurses and midwives make to global healthcare (ICN, 2019).

By understanding the importance of this significant milestone, nurses are able to recognise the role we play in helping to make our workplaces safer, our labour recognised and our voices heard, a voice which can be made stronger through the effective use of social media; a medium through which nurses can find their voice and catalyse collective action. Although there is considerable debate as to whether the use of social media is indeed a legitimate form of action (Chatfield, 2011), it is still a well-recognised way in which nurses can share their voice publicly and drive forward social change, and is one, which has the potential to benefit both our patients and society as a whole. 

Engaging and uniting the nursing workforce to speak with one voice is challenging. The nursing profession is not a harmonised workforce, and often engages in bullying. A term used to define a number of personal factors, such as sex, race and age as well as organisational factors such as culture (Yun and Kang, 2014). Bullying seeks to harm the personal and professional relationships of the targeted by socially excluding and harassing the individual concerned (Johnson, 2011). Nurses in particular have been frequently criticised for engaging in lateral violence; (Sanner-Stiehr and Ward-Smith, 2017) a process of peer-peer bullying and has far too often been admonished for ‘eating their young’ (Meissner, 1986) a colloquial term, used to recognise the failure of nurses to support those newly registered. Furthermore, cyberbullying is considered of particular concern due to its ‘boundaryless nature’ (Heatherington & Coyne, 2014).

Disappointingly, this behaviour could be considered a contributory factor in creating critical divisions, through which nurses can be easily exploited. On this evidence alone, it could be argued that the nursing profession has created significant barriers to collaboration. Rather than being strong collective leaders, who nurture both our young and more experienced alike, we are seen as being significant contributors to our own demise. After all, if we are unable to work harmoniously, how can we lead collaboratively?

So, in order to facilitate and drive forward the change so desperately needed, as evidenced throughout the lead-up to the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and during a year when we all celebrate our professional lives, nurses must utilise their ‘strength in numbers’ to bring the global workforce together, rather than be ‘at odds’ with each other, and in so doing, unlock the social power that exists within the profession.
Social power a term used by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (2018) is defined as:

‘the capacity that civil society has to deliver profound transformational change - in individual lives, in communities, and in society as a whole’.

Change the word civil to nursing and we have a nursing society, a collective, through which we can bring about fundamental change, not only nationally but globally.

If we are to unlock the social power of the profession, nursing needs bold leaders, willing to recognise the professions potential, encourage solidarity and create a combined purpose.
Rather than continuing to be led by others, including the patriarchal world of medicine, management and government agendas, nurse leaders must focus on what is important to nurses and be vocal and prominent, rather than passive recipients of change.

Managers and governments who make nurses scapegoats for the delivery of increasingly pressurised care, at a time of unprecedented nursing shortages, should be brought to account for their actions. For these actions which have sought to demoralise nursing and bring it to its knees, a good example of which is the loss of the bursary, (RCN, 2018), requires accountability.

Although the UK government following its re-election in December 2019, has declared its intention to provide financial support to student nurses, (which may help to encourage more students into nursing), (RCN, 2019), this may simply be too little, too late. The greatest concern however, as argued by Professor Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Advanced Nursing which presents an interesting viewpoint; is not of nurse recruitment, (asserted by many as being the root cause of nursing shortages), but of nurse retention.  His Twitter response to this headline news on 18th December captures his thoughts:

‘Why are we doing this when we don’t have a recruitment problem? We have a retention problem once these nurses enter practice. This is building cabins on a sinking boat when we should be patching the holes. Can anyone provide an answer that does not include ‘they deserve it’?

It could be argued however that these differences of opinion only seek to create divisions between the nursing profession, creating barriers to collaboration and collective action.  So
should nurses put aside such opinions and their differences and engage in collective action, one with vision and restore faith in its ability to create its own destiny. By working as a collaborative force nurses can bring about change that can benefit the whole of society globally as well as nationally. Through targeted and positive, collective action we have so much to gain and so little to lose.

CatherineBest is Chair RCN Yorkshire and Humber Regional Board 


Chatfield, T. (2011) The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World by Evgeny Morozov – review. The guardian [Online]. 9 January. Available from: <> [Accessed 02 January 2020]


Heatherington, W. and Coyne, I. (2014) Understanding individual experiences of cyberbullying encountered through work. International Journal of Organizational Theory and Behavior, 17, September, pp. 163-192


International Council of Nurses. (2019) International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now welcome 2020 as International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. International Council of Nurses [Online]. Available from: <>
[Accessed 02 January 2020]

Johnson, S. L. (2011). An Ecological model of workplace bullying: A guide for intervention and research. Nursing Forum, 46 (2), April-June, pp. 55-63.

Meissner, JE. (1986) Nurses: are we eating our young? Nursing, 16 (3) March, pp. 51-3

Royal College of Nursing (2019) Student funding announcement what we know so far
[Accessed 02 January 2020]

Royal College of Nursing (2018) Removing the student nurse bursary has been a disaster
[Accessed 02 January 2020]

Sanner-Stiehr, E. and Ward-Smith, P. (2017) Lateral Violence in Nursing: Implications and Strategies for Nurse Educators Journal of Professional Nursing, 33 (2), March-April, pp. 113-118

Sheila McKechnie Foundation (2018) Social Power. How civil society can ‘Play Big’ and truly create change. London: The Sheila McKechnie Foundation

Yun, S. and Kang, J. (2014). Factors affecting workplace bullying in Korean hospital nurses. Korean Journal of Adult. Nursing, 26 (5), October, pp. 553-562.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Publishing studies in traditional Chinese medicine

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Read our editorial on Publishing studies in traditional Chinese medicine:

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a history of thousands of years in China and is officially sanctioned by the government as a treatment option for Chinese citizens alongside, what we will refer to here as western medicine, which is also very well developed in China. In the west, TCM is becoming increasingly popular with some people who become worried about the efficacy and side‐effects of western medicine.

Listen to the entire editorial as a podcast


Watson, R. and Xue, C. (2020), Publishing studies in traditional Chinese medicine. J Adv Nurs.  doi:10.1111/jan.14297

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Turnover prevention among newly qualified nurses

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Nursing turnover, especially in the early days in clinical practice, is of intense interest as this is a period when many nurses are lost to the profession. The aim of this study from The Netherlands by Hoeve et al. (2019) and published in JAN was to gain: 'insight in the most crucial organizational job stressors for novice nurses’ professional commitment and whether the job stressors are mediated through negative emotions.'

Eighteen newly qualified nurses provided nearly 600 diary entries related to their time in practice and this was combined with measures on emotions and commitment. The results showed that: 'lack of support from colleagues, negative experiences with patients and confrontations with existential events were most strongly negatively related to professional commitment through negative emotions.'

The authors concluded: ' anticipation of growing nursing shortages, it is essential to prevent turnover of novice nurses. Therefore, nurses need a supportive work environment for coping with the most crucial organizational job stressors to enhance professional commitment. In particular, support in the clinical environment is crucial because not feeling supported by colleagues, negative experiences with patients, encountering existential events and conflicting job demands proved to be critical to professional commitment. Retaining novice nurses by creating a supportive work environment for the nursing workforce can be considered a major challenge for nurse managers, organizational management and policy makers.'

You can listen to this as a podcast


Hoeve, Y.T., Brouwer, J. and Kunnen, S. (2019), Turnover prevention: The direct and indirect association between organizational job stressors, negative emotions and professional commitment in novice nurses. J Adv Nurs. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/jan.14281

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Is urinary urgency in older women associated with falls?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

There is good reason to suspect that having to go to the toilet frequently by older women may be associated with falls. These older women are possibly more likely to be frail and, in addition to frequent visits to the toilet during the day - which can be exhausting in itself - having to go at night adds additional danger.

This study from South Korea by Park et al (2019) titled: Association Between Urinary Urgency and Falls Among rural dwelling Older Wome and published in JAN aimed to: 'examine the association between urinary urgency and falls in older women living in rural areas in South Korea.' The study included nearly 250 women aged over 65. The frequency of falls and the factors associated with them were examined. Just over 30% of the women had experienced a fall in the past year and a range of hazards such as slippery floors was associated with this. Also, urinary frequency and osteoporosis were associated with falls.

The authors concluded: 'The current study found that urinary urgency was associated with falls among older women living in Korean rural areas. The sense of a strong urge to void often makes older women with urinary urgency rush to the bathroom and places them at a high risk of falls.' Among other recommendations: 'The findings also have implications for policymakers with regard to designing safer indoor and outdoor environments for older women living in rural areas, such as by amending building codes for elder-friendly environments or by providing funds for remodeling their residence spaces or neighbourhood.'

You can listen to this as a podcast.


Park, J., Lee, K. and Lee, K. (2019), Association Between Urinary Urgency and Falls Among rural dwelling Older Women. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.14284

Friday, 29 November 2019

Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Specialist and former patient reunite after a decade in support of new charity awareness campaign

November 26th marked the launch of Sarcoma UK’s new comprehensive report ‘The Loneliest Cancer’ which reveals how this little-known disease has a devastating impact on patients and their families.

Over 5,300 people are diagnosed with sarcoma in the UK every year. This is a tenth of those found with breast cancer, meaning that those diagnosed with sarcoma might never meet someone who shares the same type as them – in many ways, sarcoma is the loneliest cancer. Sarcomas are tumours that develop in the cells of either the body’s soft tissue or bones and they can appear in almost any part of the body.

As part of the campaign activity, sarcoma Clinical Nurse Specialist Helen Stradling and a former patient she treated over ten years ago, Liam Harrison, came together to raise awareness of this complex and commonly misunderstood cancer.

Helen spent many years practising at Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, and in 2005 became the first sarcoma specialist nurse in Oxford. She first became involved with Sarcoma UK in 2010, and for the past three years has been on the frontline of support and awareness by helping to man Sarcoma UK’s national Support Line, which, since its establishment in February 2016, has taken 5,500 calls and emails from 1500 people. Back in 2006, Helen treated the then 20-year-old Liam Harrison. Liam had been playing football when he suffered a hip injury. When the pain did not subside, Liam went to hospital where an x-ray suggested something more sinister. Further tests revealed that he had chondrosarcoma - the most common type of bone sarcoma. Helen remembers being in the room with Liam and his mother when he received his diagnosis. “Up until I was told I had a sarcoma, I’d never heard of it,” said Liam. “At first, I couldn’t believe it was happening to me”. Within two weeks, his damaged hip joint was removed and replaced with a prosthetic. Happily, his relatively early diagnosis, together with a steely determination, ensured Liam made a full recovery and he is now living in Spain, where he is working as a teacher.

Over ten years on, Helen and Liam joined forces to raise awareness of sarcoma and the launch of the new charity report. Helen spent the day participating in a series of radio interviews and speaking to journalists to help flag up symptoms, treatment routes and support services, and was joined for one interview by Liam. The charity’s campaign also aimed to increase healthcare professionals’ understanding of the cancer via a series of free Sarcoma Diagnostic Toolkits.  The guides contain simple yet effective tools outlining clinical presentations, investigations for adults and children, as well as guidance on how to refer patients to their nearest Sarcoma Specialist Centre for diagnosis and treatment – they can be downloaded at.

Richard Davidson, Chief Executive of Sarcoma UK comments; “Appallingly, this destructive cancer has maintained a low profile until now, even though lives are still being lost or devastated by amputations and invasive treatments. 15 people each day in the UK receive the shattering news that they have sarcoma, yet according to a YouGov poll, 75% of people “do not know what sarcoma is”. With greater awareness, diagnosis could be quicker and with increased funding for pioneering research, survival rates could be improved.  I’m really grateful to both Helen and Liam for helping to spread the word.”

Sarcoma UK Support Line Specialists are here for every person affected by sarcoma. Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm. Phone: 0808 801 0401 or email.