Canadian Nurse

 View Only

National Nursing Week is over … now what?

By CN Content posted 06-12-2019 00:00
Jun 12, 2019, By: Barb Shellian

I love National Nursing Week—it is a celebration of the contribution of nursing in our communities, our nation, and across the globe. But just like Christmas, it is over too soon. What happens in the weeks after Nursing Week is just as important as the tea parties, pizza, and accolades during that one week of the year.

The theme for National Nursing Week this year was Nurses: A Voice to Lead Health for All.

The theme was developed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and, according to ICN (2019), A Voice to Lead reflects the fact that “every nurse has a story and every story has the potential to improve the health system and enable individuals and communities to achieve their highest attainable standard of health. From these insights comes the power for change.” Health for all means “not just the availability of health services, but a complete state of physical and mental health that enables a person to lead a socially and economically productive life.” We need to tell our stories every day, every week, in the journey to health for all.

What we do has meaning.

Most people have had contact with a nurse. Nurses provide care for people in the midst of health, pain, loss, fear, disfigurement, dying, grieving, challenge, growth, birth, aging, and transition. Nurses call this the privileged place of nursing. Nurses are with people at their least inhibited, most intimate, and vulnerable times to lend strength and support to those who require nursing care. People need nurses, and nurses need people.

We need to recognize and honour our professional achievements. As well, we need to be aware of every opportunity to promote greater awareness of the important contribution nurses make to the health care system. Nurses today are knowledge workers who deal with increasingly complex cases and issues in the workplace. The significant contributions that nurses make to the health care system and the well-being of all Canadians are the result of ethically applied knowledge, lifelong learning, competence, and dedication to patient safety. Nurses bring these skills and expertise to all aspects of health care: clinical, education, administration, and research. Nursing practice continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of patients and clients. Innovation, resilience, flexibility, teamwork, communication, and leadership are highly valued elements in nursing. Such skills and abilities provide the means to welcome change, navigate the future, and thrive in a challenging, knowledge-based work environment.

Across the health care system, from novice to expert, and from generalist to specialist, every nurse has a role to play in ensuring that a strong and dynamic nursing workforce is maintained and sustained, re-energized and renewed. As stated by ICN, every nurse has a story and every story is a voice to lead to health for all. We welcome your stories and your voice as part of the digital Canadian Nurse: think about your practice, your successes, your challenges, and share these with your colleagues across the country in a submission to Canadian Nurse. The work of nurses in Canada is outstanding, and often I am left speechless (hard to do, for me) when I hear about the innovation and achievement that happen every day and every week.

On a personal note, many of you may know that I recently lost my dear mother. Her last days were supported by a team of incredibly skillful nurses. Every day, I work with a team that is committed to safe, competent, ethical nursing care. Health for all cannot happen without nurses.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you do. Your commitment is outstanding, and I recognize that sometimes it is not easy to do what needs to be done. But you do it anyway.

I am proud to be a registered nurse in Canada, and I don’t mind telling people—not just during National Nursing Week, but every week.


International Council of Nurses (ICN). (2019). Become a Voice to Lead.

Additional Resources

Canadian NurseAuthor Guidelines

Editor-in-chief, Barb Shellian is a registered nurse committed to nursing practice, health care reform and people. She is the immediate past president of the Canadian Nurses Association. She is also director of Rural Health – Alberta Health Services Calgary Zone and is located in Canmore, Alberta.