“For the sick it is important to have the best.” Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, wrote these words in 1855. They ring as true in 2020—a year designated as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization, honoring the bicentennial of Nightingale’s birth.
Both then and now, the best health care relies strongly on innovation in nursing. Penn’s School of Nursing recognizes the importance of new ideas and empowers nurses and nursing students who are thinking outside the box to address some of today’s most pressing health issues—from gun violence to vaccinations, to the opiate epidemic and beyond. Its focus on innovation played a key role in Penn Nursing being named the #1 nursing school in the world by QS World University Rankings in 2019, earning the top spot for a fourth consecutive year.
In 2020, Penn Nursing is embracing the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to celebrate individuals in these roles, educate the public about their impact, and advocate for the professions within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond. The initiative is driven in part by 2020nurseandmidwife.org, a Penn Nursing-led effort which represents a partnership of nursing schools and institutions around the Philadelphia region that are working together to highlight the profession throughout the year.
Telling Their Stories
At their core, nurses are strong individuals with unique personal sources of motivation, perseverance, and optimism for the future. In conjunction with the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the School recently launched Humans of Penn Nursing, a web series sharing meaningful stories about the profession from current students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
One such story comes from Luz Elena Pérez Méndez, Nu’22, who recalls the day that started her down the road to becoming a nurse. As a volunteer in a small rural clinic in Guatemala, Méndez witnessed a live birth for the first time—an experience that laid bare both the power and fragility of human life. Today, she is in her second year as a Penn Nursing student, with the goal of becoming a labor and delivery nurse after graduation.
For me, witnessing birth was a life-changing experience not only as an individual, but also as a woman, and I want to be able to play a part in shaping these moments for others as well.”Luz Elena Pérez Méndez, Nu’22
Welcoming the Community
Penn Nursing is bringing members of the public into the fold through a variety of community events throughout the year. Each program creates opportunities to learn about the impact of nursing, as well as to meet and interact with rising and established practitioners.
The first months of 2020 offer a diverse selection of these events. They include a visit to New York for Penn Nursing’s Innovating for Life and Living Campaign Tour, a Nursing Story Slam, and the second annual West Philadelphia Women’s Day, among others. More events will be listed online as the year unfolds.
Through the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Penn Nursing hopes to build connections with those outside the profession. That means listening and learning about what nursing means to those whose lives it has affected.
To that end, Penn Nursing is encouraging all those whose lives have been touched by a nurse or midwife to tell their own stories through artwork. Artists of all ages and skill levels can get involved by submitting original art that illustrates the impact of nurses and midwives. Whether you’re a current or former nurse, or someone outside of the profession whose life was changed in some way by one of these hardworking practitioners, your creative flair can help to enrich this important year of discussion and discovery.
Submissions will be selected and highlighted on 2020nurseandmidwife.org and could even be featured in an upcoming book at the close of the year. Click here to learn more about how to submit your artwork.
The School also welcomes engagement through their ongoing Innovating for Life and Living Campaign, through which alumni, parents, and friends of the University can support its goals—which include better access for deserving students, a deepened commitment to research and innovation, and stronger partnerships with community partners. Your support for the Campaign will help Penn Nursing to maximize its impact in 2020 and for many years to come.