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.

Editorial note: entries to JAN interactive are not reviewed and are published at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief and may be subject to editing or removal by Wiley. We welcome replies, rejoinders, comments and debate on all entries provided they are not offensive or personal.

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