Happy Nursing Day! By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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Happy Nursing Day!
By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

International Nursing Day is being marked on 12th May across the globe with a purpose to acknowledge the integral role that Nurses play in the healthcare system. Pakistan is home of various humanist legends who spend their entire lives to serve the mankind. First Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan was one of them who sacrificed everything for Pakistan. It is on record that at the time of assassination, he was wearing a vest in torn condition which shows his commitment to his words. His spouse Begum Ra’ana Liaqat Ali Khan played a pivotal role to elevate the social status of nurses. At the time of independence, Pakistani hospitals were in dire need of nurses due to “Mohajireen” crisis and thus, she decided to lead a national nursing movement to encourage Pakistani parents to take up nursing as a noble profession.

12th May is birthday of renowned English nurse Florence Nightingale, pioneer of modern nursing who changed its face to a highly skilled and well-respected medical profession. Florence was born on 12 May 1820 in Florence, Italy. Although, she opened her eyes in a rich and wealthy family but she is famous for her selfless nursing work to serve humanity. When she was 12 years old, the question kept her mind busy that the world is having so many miseries then how would she justify to live in comfort. To achieve her life goals, she decided to join the profession of nursing. The decision was not so easy at the time when the nursing profession was not considered good one in the west. Despite the intense anger shown by her family, Florence worked hard in the field of nursing with enthusiasm. She was very much interested to do something toward lifting the load of suffering from the helpless and miserable. At the age of 34 years, Florence Nightingale went to the battlefield to manage the nursing of British soldiers wounded in the Crimean War. She also used to carry a lamp in her hand as she walked in the battlefield hospital and became known as the “lady with the lamp”. On 13 August 1910, at the age of 90, she passed away peacefully but the great contributions she had done made her legendary in the eyes of people throughout the world and even today, after more than 100 years of her death, the international nursing days reminds her great sacrifice. The life story of Florence Nightingale shows that just a kind heart is not enough to serve the mankind but a proper solid work plan is essential for success. A number of hurdles may be faced during the struggle but we must overcome with open heart.

According to a UN report, there are around 2 Crore nurses serving in different hospitals in different countries whereas nurses in the US dominate due to most larger number. The situation in our beloved country Pakistan is very hopeless where nurses are facing various problems in terms of social and economical. Today, nurses are required to play various roles concurrently depending on the situation, which includes: caregiver, communicator, well wisher, patient advocate and mentor but our people holds same negative views about nurses as the western people held at the era of Florence. This is highly regrettable that whenever our female relative admits to hospital then our first priority is to ensure female nurse for her look after, specially in night timings but we don’t allow our daughters and sisters to join the nursing profession. When this dual standards will end ? When all of us are aware of the positive role of nursing and healthcare then why it becomes matter of our family honor when our some female close relative shows interest to become nurse? Presence of a nurse, no doubt, is a ray of hope for a patient and the role of nurses could not be eliminated from the healthcare system at any cost.

I believe that we need to run a full-fledged social movement to change the mindset and elevate the status of nurses on the footprints of Florence and Begum Ra’ana. Our negative attitude is creating different problems for sincere and innocent nurses. The anger shown by doctors and misbehaviour by patients also badly effect the work performance of nurses. In this extremely inflation, a nurse is forced to work for many hospitals at a time. She has to ensure her availability to perform long duties just like doctors and in case of emergency, extra duty is also required but without incentives. The complaints of exploitation in private hospitals is another painful issue.

Besides betterment in our attitude towards nurses, the noble profession also deserves the attention of government on priority basis. According to media reports, the number of professional nurses serving Pakistani hospitals is not more than 70,000 and there is a very horrific shortage of nurses in government hospitals, specially ICU, CCU, operation theaters and emergency wards. As per Pakistan Nursing Council, the institutes providing diploma and degree programs in the field of nursing are just five and therefore, I believe that a number of initiatives such as establishment of world-class nursing colleges and universities, along with abroad scholarships, fellowships and professional exchange programs are need of time for capacity building of Pakistani nurses.I also would like to propose announcing annual nursing award on federal and provincial levels to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of nurses in different healthcare fields. Happy Nursing Day!

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