The Year of the Nurse and Midwife – 2020

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN | Updated/Verified: Mar 27, 2024

In honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the year 2020 as the "Year of the Nurse and Midwife." This title signifies the culmination of a three-year campaign effort to globally improve health by raising the status of nursing and will include two documents, the State of the World's Nursing Report and the State of the World's Midwifery report; the first of its kind. Since nurses and midwives comprise more than 50% of the healthcare workforce in most countries, strengthening nursing across the globe will have a positive impact on universal health.

Aligned with the WHO designation is the Nursing Now campaign aimed "to improve health by raising the profile and status of nursing worldwide." This empowering crusade has focused on five core areas:

  • Nurses and midwives having a voice in health-related policies
  • Investment to the nursing workforce
  • Recruiting nurses to leadership positions
  • Identifying, through research, where nurses can make the biggest impact
  • Sharing of best nursing practices

One way to invest in the nursing workforce is to expose and highlight the variety of roles that nurses can pursue in order to attract and retain nurses to the profession. Nurses use their training and skills in research, mentoring, writing, community health, disease management, education, health promotion, law, innovation, and clinical applications – just to name a few. Many nurses have moved beyond the bedside to affect change in areas outside of the hospital and clinical settings yet still use nursing as the basis for the role. As prospective nursing students consider the profession of nursing, perhaps a glimpse into many "unusual" career paths will inspire a new generation of innovative nurses, or reinvigorate a seasoned nurse who is considering leaving the profession.

Here at, we are celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by highlighting the journeys of nurses and midwives who have taken the road less traveled in nursing. Those who not only think outside of the proverbial box but create a whole new box and then use the box as a platform for change. Nurses that, in spite of their differences, are woven with a common thread: Courage.

The history of nursing is riddled with those who dared to push beyond the boundaries of what society determined and even their own personal safety. From Clara Barton's Red Cross to Harriet Tubman's railroad to Walt Whitman's prose to Ellen Ainsworth's heroics in WWII to nurses such as Darrell Wilken who transported critical patients in his car during the Camp Fire of 2018 – Florence would be proud of what nurses have accomplished these past 160+ years. Yet there is still much work to be done.


The World Health Organization estimates the world will need an additional 9 million nurses by the year 2030. That is only 10 years to attract, train and retain a new generation of the compassionate, competent and skilled nursing workforce across the globe. By highlighting the non-traditional side of nursing roles and the possibilities of using nursing to infuse healthy change into our communities, we showcase what is possible in the profession of nursing and midwifery for the coming centuries.

Join us as we celebrate 2020 – the Year of the Nurse and Midwife!