Celebrating nurses with a pioneering spirit across the world

To commemorate International Women's Day this year, we’re shining a light on the outstanding achievements of women around the globe working in palliative and end of life care

8 March 2020

This year is particularly special for us, as the WHO marks 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and we memorialise the 200th birth year of Florence Nightingale. It is magnificent to see more men coming into the nursing profession which is undoubtedly something to be celebrated. The role of nursing, however, remains to be predominately female (with over 90% of nurses being female worldwide). Florence Nightingale and Cecily Saunders were both trailblazers of nursing’s history; today, we celebrate the trailblazers of the future.

Last year, St Christopher’s took up the challenge to mark this significant year and embarked on a range of research initiatives including our study into what makes a nurse working in end of life and palliative care pioneering. Our programme asks for colleagues and friends to nominate a pioneering nurse known to them who is making a profound difference to people’s lives anywhere in the world. So far, we have been overwhelmed by the creativity and compassion of a diverse range of women (and men!) making history and pushing for change in nursing today. Leading the way and provoking change for the better, we highlight our top three female nominees so far:

Homelessness and end-of-life care

Homelessness is increasing in the UK with access to palliative and end of life care becoming particularly challenging for those living in temporary accommodation or areas out of reach from healthcare professionals. Alison, a UK based end of life nurse is leading a pioneering new care support system for the homeless community who seek access to end of life care in the North of England. This continues to be a complex issue in the UK in desperate need of support.

Sowing the seeds of change in Cambodia

Palliative care treatment remains difficult to manage in resource-limited settings such as Cambodia. Pisey is a staff nurse based in Cambodia who is responsible for the first 2 palliative care beds in one of the hospitals there. Interestingly, the word compassion does not translate directly in the local Khmer language, so Pisey shares her personal nursing experience through patient stories and role-plays to help other medical & nursing students understand what compassion care practice means. 

Saving lives in Uganda

Only an estimated 5% of cancers in Africa reach oncology or surgical services. Esther, a Lead Nurse working at Jinja Hospice in Uganda helps individuals with life-limiting illnesses live their final days in peace, comfort and with dignity. On top of her incredibly demanding role in caring for the dying, she and her team have now begun work to champion a public health approach offering free visual cervical examination to screen for cervical cancers (49% of female cancers in Uganda are cervical) and thus saving lives. 

These truly inspiring women are leading the way and share with us their vision for nursing beyond 2020. You can find out more about the programme and nominate here. We will be showcasing the stories of these women, and the men and women doing pioneering work around the globe at our Rising to the Challenge in Nursing Conference on May 5 at King’s College Hospital in London.

Happy International Women’s Day 2020!

Find out more about our year of celebrating palliative nursing and our webinar series on Rising to the Challenge in Nursing.

8 March 2020

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