The World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board designated “2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” in honor of the 200th birth anniversary (May 12) of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910).1 The WHO is focused on mobilizing nurses and midwives to achieve universal healthcare coverage since they serve as the bridge to patients, communities, and institutions globally.
Year of The Nurse 2020
Florence Nightingale’s legacy is extremely relevant as our modern world is in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Covid-19 has spread to over 190 countries and territories, prompting governments to essentially cause a global standstill. Healthcare workers are at the frontline, working night and day to treat those infected while scientists are working around the clock to produce a vaccine.
Modern nursing finds a proud heritage in its founder, Florence Nightingale—a mystic, visionary, reformer, healer, environmentalist, feminist, practitioner, scientist, and politician.2-4 Her contribution to nursing theory, research, statistics, public health, and health care reform are foundational and inspirational; her spiritual example prompts us in our own healing journey.
Nightingale has captivated the hearts and minds of people globally by sharing significant stories about humanity and human caring for the health of the world—keenly relevant for today. In our time, the same environmental and social issues hat were of concern to Nightingale — are now understood as key factors in achieving global development and global health. Since 2015, these issues have been identified as the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).5
Indeed, “health” is a central common thread that runs through all 17 SDGs.
As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic, global nurses and midwives are expanding their consciousness to raise their powerful voices as planetary citizens, becoming more aware of strategies for personal and planetary health (local to global), and resulting in an ideal of healthy people living on a healthy planet worldwide.6 Planetary citizenship requires nurses and midwives and all concerned citizens to strive for universal human dignity, and to embrace a holistic awareness of honoring all of life for the sustainability of self, others, and our environment.
As concerned global citizens, you are invited to sign the Nightingale Declaration for a Healthy Word at Nightingale Initiative for Global Health
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2019a). Executive board designates 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/hrh/news/2019/2020year-of-nurses/en
- Nightingale Initiative for Global Health. 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Retrieved from
- Dossey, B. M. (2010). Florence Nightingale: Mystic, visionary, healer (Commemorative ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.
- Beck, D. M., & Dossey, B. M. (2019). In Nightingale’s footsteps—individual to global: From nurse coaches to environmental and civil society activists. Creative Nursing: A Journal of Values, Issues, Experience and Collaboration, 25(3), 258-263.
- United Nations. (2016). Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Dossey, B.M., Rosa, W.E., & Beck, D.M. (2019). Nursing and the Sustainable Development Goals: From Nightingale to now. American Journal of Nursing, 119(5), 44-49. https://doi.org/10.1097/01. NAJ.0000557912.35398.8f
Barbara Dossey, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, HWNC-BC, is an internationally recognized integrative, holistic nursing pioneer, a nurse theorist (Theory of Integral Nursing; co-author, Theory of Integrative Nurse Coaching), and Florence Nightingale Scholar. She is Co-Director, International Nurse Coach Association (INCA) and Core Faculty, Integrative Nurse Coach® Certificate Program (INCCP), Miami, Florida; International Co-Director, Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH); and Director of Holistic Nursing Consultants (HNC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has authored or co-authored 25 books including Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice (7th ed., 2016); Nurse Coaching: Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing (2015); The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide for Coaching Scope and Competencies (2013); Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer (2010, Commemorative Edition). She is a founding member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and Holistic Nurse of the Year. She is an 11-time recipient of the prestigious American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award, and has received many other awards. Barbara is also on the ANA’s Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge Advisory Board.