We say goodbye often — when we hang up the phone, finish an email or drop someone off at the airport. Sometimes, we don’t think twice about it. But right now, in this challenging time, we say farewell to something different. Farewell to our previous way of being.
The world has shifted. We’ve stepped forward to meet the challenge of a global pandemic with fierceness and determination, adapting to some version of a “next normal” while leading astounding innovative practices in patient care.
Nurses have answered the call and are more visible than ever. Our efforts and successes showcase the strength of teams, the need for creativity and the inspiring rapid change that can occur when collaboration is ramped up and red tape is removed. We’ve crossed a line into a place that embraces the profound impact of nursing and highlights our great potential.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, a large survey, “Americans' Values and Beliefs About National Health Insurance Reform,” conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and The New York Times, showed clearly that the majority of the public trusts nurses to fix healthcare — more than they trust physicians, hospitals or the federal government to improve the system. The survey results also suggest that those outside nursing who wish to play an important role in healthcare reform must coalesce around the shared vision of nurses.
Our AACN community this year is a shining example of why nurses are so trusted. In the past four months, nurses have shown how nursing is less about what appears on the surface and more about what dwells within us. You are a pearl made from grit.
A poem written during the Spanish influenza pandemic reads, “ … and when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
For me, there is another farewell. As I step into this next normal in nursing with you, I am also saying farewell to my AACN presidency. I have so many to thank and an abundance of grateful moments. Who knew when I started my presidential year in scrubs that they would symbolize what this year would bring, and the impact nurses would have across this country and around the world?
It certainly has been a most unusual year to be AACN president, but what I intended to say in my farewell speech at NTI still rings true because the foundations of nursing remain unscathed.
Nursing is still the glance that soothes a patient, the ear that hears when nobody else will, the thoughtful deed unnoticed and the links that connect us. We don’t change nursing by looking at it — we change it by being part of it and connecting to something bigger. With perseverance in your mind and passion in your heart, you are Unstoppable. You will continue to be in my heart and my thoughts as we emerge from this global crisis. Thank you for allowing me to be on this journey with you.
If you have any parting thoughts for me, I’d love to hear them. Email Unstoppable@aacn.org.