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Recognizing our heroes during National Nursing Week

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on May 13, 2020

Category: myUNB , UNB Saint John , UNB Fredericton

The following commentary is from Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, UNB President and Vice-Chancellor.

It’s unlikely that any of us could have predicted the current global situation when, in December, the World Health Assembly designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in honour of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday.

This unintentionally timely designation recognizes the dedication and compassion nursing professionals put into their work. National Nursing Week, which this year runs from May 11-17, is another opportunity to thank those who care for us in our time of need, sometimes putting their own health at risk to do so.

Whether or not you’ve spent an extensive amount of time in healthcare settings, you’ll know how crucial nurses are to providing essential and daily health services. They are often the first and only point of care in communities around the world.

At the University of New Brunswick, 92 nursing students graduated early this year in order to join the workforce and fight COVID-19. With support from the Nursing Association of New Brunswick, expedited temporary nursing permits were issued and a majority of graduates are already employed and working in healthcare in the province.

These highly skilled UNB nursing graduates join thousands of others in the province who are leading the charge against this pandemic. Despite a state of emergency and campuses closing, our nursing students quickly adapted to the changing situation and completed necessary training through alternate delivery methods.

Healthcare education is an institutional priority for UNB and we recognize that reforming the healthcare system to make it more effective and financially sustainable will require new approaches. In February, we announced the launch of our new, innovative bachelor of health degree program for our Saint John campus. It will prepare students to pursue a variety of careers in the health sector, as well as providing preparation for professional programs and associated entrance exams.

The bachelor of health program is part of a wider integrated health initiative, currently in the final stages of development, which will respond to the need for effective, efficient and sustainable health care in New Brunswick and Canada.

The International Council of Nurses created the theme of this year’s National Nursing Week, “A voice to lead – nursing the world to health,” to highlight the crucial role of nurses in addressing an extensive range of health challenges. The current global health crisis shows us just how true this is.

In these past few months, we’ve seen the profile of healthcare professionals and the demanding tasks they perform lifted to “hero” status. People in New Brunswick and around the world are banging their cookware, sharing heartfelt stories and decorating their windows with colourful masterpieces to thank nurses and other frontline workers.

Nurses and healthcare workers have always been heroes and will continue to be long after the pots and pans stop clanging. Heroes are known for their strength and courage in the face of adversity, something each healthcare worker has faced – and is facing.

The COVID-19 situation in New Brunswick has improved to the point where the provincial government is discussing lifting certain restrictions and the role of our nurses and healthcare professionals in this cannot be overlooked. They are nursing our province back to health and working tirelessly to keep us there. Let us all thank and acknowledge our heroes.