2020 National Nurses Month
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has declared May to be Nurses Month. This recognition adds to the growing national and international support for the role nurses play in our healthcare system, our community, and in combating the COVID-19 pandemic on the front-lines. We are proud to join in the celebration of nurses around the world. Check back each day for new features and stories!
Tuesday, May 5 – International Day of the Midwife
The role of the midwife in the 21st century and gender inequality in the field
Midwifery is one of the oldest professions and human activities. The presence of skilled and empathetic human support during pregnancy and childbirth is vital to our survival. Midwifery has a philosophical basis that places a high importance on shared decision-making between the midwife and the patient/family, while treating every patient as an individual with unique needs.
Nurse-midwifery, as a practice, has evolved quite a bit in the past century. The scope has expanded beyond childbearing to include reproductive care outside of pregnancy and even primary care. The American College of Nurse Midwives Competencies have recently expanded to include care for transgender individuals.
Here’s how Husky nurse-midwives and faculty are making an impact:
Although nurse-midwifery has evolved, there is still a need to diversify the profession, which is largely white and female. Molly Altman is one of our Assistant Professors and is a nurse-midwife. In a recently published study, she explored the challenges women of color face interacting with health care providers during pregnancy and birth. Ira Kantrowitz-Gordon is also an Assistant Professors and is a nurse-midwife. He recently co-authored a study demonstrating the lack of gender diversity in the midwifery profession in the United States.
Given the situation of COVID-19, Assistant Professor Molly Altman with Ira Kantrowitz-Gordon and UW Bothell Assistant Professor Meghan Eagen-Torkko have begun a study of the experience of pregnancy and birth during the pandemic. From their first set of interviews, they have observed the toll physical distancing has made on pregnant and postpartum individuals, including having to make choices between the presence of a partner or a doula at birth, as well as not getting enough support postpartum. COVID-19 has turned pregnancy, birth, and postpartum into a potentially isolating experience, when exactly the opposite is needed. The burden on racial and ethnic minorities may be even greater as they are more vulnerable to social, economic, and health disparities.
Wednesday, May 6 – National School Nurses Day
The important role school nurses play in our communities
Forget the stereotype of the school nurse who hands out aspirin and bandages. Today’s school nurses are required to have a broad set of skills to address a school population with increasingly complex social, physical, and mental health needs, from homelessness to seizure disorders to diabetes. School nurses translate students’ complex health needs into action for schools so that students are safe and ready to learn.
Dr. Katie Johnson, a lecturer at the UW School of Nursing with over 15 years’ experience in a variety of school nursing roles, points out the importance of school nurses in mitigating many of the issues that vulnerable K-12 students face, including lack of shelter, unstable home environments, or hunger.
“Equity is a focus of every school nurse,” said Dr. Johnson. “For kids who are the most marginalized, both socially and economically, it is the often the school nurse who first recognizes this and who can help level the playing field for them.”
Many students, she points out, rely on schools for meals and stability, and to connect them with outside resources, such as counseling. During the statewide school shutdown in Washington due to coronavirus, Dr. Johnson said Washington school nurses continue to meet in videoconferencing sessions and organize those resources, even when they can’t be on campus. School nurses, she points out, sit at the intersection between education and health – the two are fundamentally intertwined in predicting a child’s adult success.
“If you’re not healthy, you can’t get what you need out of school. And, if you’re not educated, you’re not going to be as healthy as an adult,” said Dr. Johnson. “School nurses make a difference for a student’s education and their future health.”
During non-coronavirus times, Dr. Johnson and UW BSN & ABSN students work in schools that serve low-income areas in Seattle. These Husky Nurses not only gain crucial hands-on clinical skills, they learn about the social causes of poor health and make an impact on the profession and the communities they serve.
Thursday, May 7 – Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
Advancing the Important Role Nurses Play in Healthcare Around the World
The World Health Assembly designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. To celebrate this designation, the UW School of Nursing joined with clinical partners and government agencies from around the region to collaborate on educational opportunities, internships, research and clinical work. During the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we recognized our legacy and impact on nursing, including:
Eliminating barriers – More diversity in nursing can reduce health disparities, and ultimately, improve the health and well-being of the population.
Supporting young and old – Regionally, nationally and internationally, nurse-led institutions — including the UW’s de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging and the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development — are guiding the health-care system to better care for these two special groups.
Educating for the future – Washington’s strong legacy of leadership continues to transform nursing education across the state.
Globally connected By harnessing knowledge of population health, global and local networks, technology, and cross-disciplinary data and research, future-focused nurses chart the path toward better health for all.
Leading with technology – As they prepare for the future, nurses continue to lead in the quest for balance between people and technology: identifying the best in both and combining them in ways that simplify and improve care.
Friday, May 8 – National Student Nurses Day
Featuring our Amazing Community of Husky Nurses
Our student nurses are preparing for careers as leaders, innovators, and competent, caring providers. The UW School of Nursing is proud that our Husky Nurses make an impact in communities around the world. From world-class medical centers in Seattle to clinical care provided in rural communities, they are dedicated to promoting nursing research and building improvements in health and healthcare.
And never has the need for nurses been so relevant. Look at almost any news story image of care being delivered during this pandemic and you see nurses on the frontlines. However, in addition to coronavirus, there is another unseen and largely unrecognized crisis lurking. While around 150,000 nurses graduate from colleges and universities across the country each year, the American Nurses Association estimates that we need to educate more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to meet our country’s growing healthcare needs. Unless we in the U.S. act now and make substantial investments in educating more nurses and empowering them to provide a full spectrum of care, patients and communities will suffer in the future.
Below are a few stories about our student Husky Nurses
- Husky Nurse Doctor of Nursing Practice student Liam is fighting the front lines of COVID-19. He said to be part of a history, a health care provider in the midst of a global pandemic helping people who have contracted the virus, is something he thinks he’ll look back on with pride.
- Due to COVID-19 our nursing students have to attend virtual classes and in-person clinical practice opportunities are canceled. They’re eager to use their skills and knowledge during this historic challenge to human health and well-being had few options.We have partnered with Public Health–Seattle & King County to give students three opportunities to join frontline efforts to meet health needs and treat patients suffering from COVID-19.
- Husky Nurse PhD student, Katie experienced workplace violence and shares her experience, her road to recovery and how she plans “interweave her own experience to inform change and advocate for primary prevention. She want to focus on generating research that informs policy change, education, and prevention of workplace violence
Visit our Student Spotlight to learn more about our Husky Nurses, their passion for nursing and how they plan to become future nurse leaders.
Monday, May 11 – Husky Nurses on the front-lines of the coronavirus pandemic
Husky Nurses and COVID-19
Our amazing Husky Nurses have been working the front lines of COVID-19.
Tuesday, May 12 – Celebrating Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday
Honoring Florence Nightingale's legacy: a message from Dean Azita Emami
I would like to ask all of you to join me in celebrating the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was born 200 years ago today. She spent much of her life building the foundation of education on which the profession of nursing now rests.
Today, nurses are clinicians, anesthesiologists, midwives, researchers, healthcare executives, policy makers, legislators, and also independent practitioners. Nurses work in many venues besides hospitals, from private practices to global healthcare organizations.
It wasn’t that way in Nightingale’s time. Just 200 years ago, there was no profession of nursing. There were no nursing schools. There was only Florence Nightingale, who had a vision for healthcare and transformed that vision in what became nursing.
Nightingale knew the importance of public support. It was through the philanthropic support of individuals that Nightingale initially was able to pursue her work of educating people in the basics of hygiene. She soon used this public support to found a training school at St. Thomas Hospital in London. This was the first non-religious school of nursing in the world. Its graduates were called “Nightingales.”
That was the foundation for what is today America’s most trusted profession. In the early 1900s, nursing education in the U.S. shifted from the so-called “Nightingale Schools” to academic institutions. Nursing has continued to expand its role and importance in the healthcare ecosystem.
Today, nurses many nurses hold doctoral degrees. They function as not only clinical experts in hospitals, but also as people who create and implement healthcare policy at every level, from local facilities to organizations serving the world.
While we most often think of Florence Nightingale as a nurse, she was also a visionary, a writer, a social reformer, a public relations expert, and a statistician. Her Notes on Nursing was the first textbook on nursing care.
In that text and throughout her career, Nightingale was an early advocate for many basic hygiene measures we now take for granted, including handwashing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. She would have joined Dr. Fauci and others during the current coronavirus pandemic in urging everyone to “wash your hands!”
On this, the occasion of her 200th birthday, we as a profession should acknowledge with great gratitude this bold, innovative, and commanding woman. Her foresight and fortitude have benefited countless millions of people for two centuries.
And in this Year of the Nurse and Midwife as declared by the World Health Organization, we also recognize and honor all nurses everywhere who have followed and extended the path blazed by Florence Nightingale.
I salute you all amazing nurses for your compassionate care and for your heroic work to protect the lives of people across the globe.
-Azita Emami, Dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing
Wednesday, May 13 – Recognizing amazing nurse influencers and leaders in our community
Friday, May 15 – Nursing Now Initiative
A Washington-led initiative to raise the profile and status of nurses worldwide
In early 2019, the UW School of Nursing partnered with other schools of nursing across the State, health care partners, and the State to launch the Nursing Now initiative. The initiative works to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity for all populations in the State of Washington.
Specifically, the Nursing Now Initiative in Washington focuses on:
Nurse Leadership – Ensure that nurses play a leadership role in the delivery of care at all levels, including physical care and the integration of behavioral health;
Diversity in Nursing – Increase the number of nurses, especially those of color, so that we enhance access to quality health care for all citizens in the state and develop nurses who are equipped to create an equitable and health future by integrating population and behavioral health concepts throughout nursing curricula;
Workforce Development and Advancement – Provide current nurses with proper training that focuses on integrating population and behavioral health concepts, so they can operate at the highest level of their positions; and
Public Policy – Build public policy that promotes and protects health for all and assures conditions that support safe and healthy communities.
Tuesday, May 19 – Importance and impact of nurses on rural health
Our impact on rural health nursing
Our nation’s rural communities are some of the most underserved, as they are sparsely populated and patients have limited access to healthcare, Recognizing the unique healthcare challenges are our rural areas face and the need for nurses trained to address those challenges, the University of Washington, with funding from Premera Blue Cross, established the Rural Nursing Health Initiative. The goal of the program is to train and place current nursing students in rural practices across Washington state.
The rural nursing program is part of Premera Blue Cross’ larger effort to improve access to healthcare in rural communities. Teaming up with the UW and other schools across the state establishes a pipeline of potential healthcare employees and nurse practitioners by providing a real-world, hands-on and leading-edge student experience.
Wednesday, May 21 – Nursing and the homelessness
Nursing and connecting with the homeless
Rising costs in healthcare and other disparities continue to widen the gap in health care equality, especially for our country’s most vulnerable populations. But there is one community that has struggled the most with the lack of access to health services: the unsheltered. For those who lack stable housing, the barriers to quality healthcare are immense and can seem insurmountable.
“Our culture has placed an emphasis on a ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality, that it’s your behavior that has led to your medical issues,” said UW School of Nursing Associate Professor Josephine Ensign. That stigma, she points out, makes it even harder for the homeless to get the medical care they need, in addition to the many underlying health issues this population experiences, like mental illness and substance use disorder.
Ensign is a member of the university’s interdisciplinary street medicine project, which provides basic medical and dental care to people living on the streets of the U District and visits local homeless shelters for women and teens. She has worked as a nurse practitioner and health services researcher around homelessness since 1984. And she knows firsthand about the challenges posed by homelessness, having found herself homeless for about six months as a young adult.
Nurses have long been at the forefront of providing care for the homeless, from working directly with patients who arrive at an emergency room needing wound care to working with the population’s significant mental health needs in shelters.
In the time of the coronavirus, Ensign and her students have had to pivot to find new ways to reach their patients. She was inspired when she heard that the old nurses’ dormitory at Harborview Medical Center had been turned into a Covid-19 assessment and recovery center.
“There are nurses in our community who did their training and lived in that dorm,” said Ensign. She said she likes the idea that the building has a long history of housing nurses whose calling was to provide care to even the most marginalized and is now being used to provide shelter that same population.
Wednesday, May 27 – Global Health and nurses
Nurses serving communities around the world
For the past eight years, Assistant Professor Jillian Pintye has worked on maternal- and child health-related research focused on HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections. A nurse-scientist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biohehavioral Nursing and Health Informatics, Dr. Pintye is affiliated with the Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children (Global WACh) in UW’s Department of Global Health. In January she was in Kenya.
Karin Huster BSN ‘05 and MPH ‘13 is a clinical instructor who started working on the Covid-19 response back in January — as the Field Coordinator for the Doctors Without Borders response in Hong Kong, covering the East Asia region. She is back in Seattle and joined the response here, working with Seattle King County Public Health and the team coordinating the response for populations experiencing homelessness. Her experience abroad responding to other outbreaks (Ebola, cholera, yellow fever, diphtheria) has definitely helped her in this challenging response. She wrote about her experiences in Hong Kong.
DNP student and BSN UW Bothell alumnus ‘18 Kathryn Newton has provided care in Haiti and the Brazilian Amazon.
During her time in Haiti, she had an amazing opportunity as a women’s health nurse. She established a women’s health portion of the primary care clinic and was able to collaborate with a doctor on the team. She came home and ended up writing women’s health guidelines that outlined non invasive ways to assess vaginal discharge such as yeast and bacterial vaginosis that was integrated into their model of care. “I felt that being unnecessarily invasive by performing internal exams with a speculum was not necessary and there could be a different approach that wasn’t so disempowering and possibly trauma inducing,” said Newton. Many of these women do not have regular access to care and these field clinic sites do not provide the privacy or space needed.
During her time in the Brazilian Amazon, she lived on a boat and went out into flooded communities to provide care. The logistics of running a clinic was time consuming. Newton collaborated with the local community health nurse, Eunice, to provide care to those that needed to be seen. With the help of a translator they were able to do a group prenatal education session, answer questions and provide individual exams such as BP, fetal heart tones, fundal height, etc.
“I feel that the midwifery model of care is a way to provide patient centered care in collaboration with women in developing countries,” said Newton.
Read more about Newton in her student spotlight
Learn more about what our Husky Nurses are doing globally through our Center for Global Health Nursing