The Year of the Nurse and Midwife: What it means and how to celebrate

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2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, but you may wonder what that means and what's so special about it. According to, the year is designed to celebrate the work of these professions, highlight the challenges they face and push for increased investments in these professions.

The year was designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale as a way to celebrate the approximately 22 million nurses and 2 million midwives in the world.

It's also the year in which WHO will launch the first State of the World's Nursing report at the 73rd World Health Assembly in May. The report is the culmination of a three-year Nursing Now campaign to improve health by raising the status and profile of nursing.

Some of the report’s highlights will include the following key facts:

  • Nurses and midwives account for nearly half of the global health workforce.
  • There is a global shortage of nurses and midwives, and the world will need an estimated 9 million more people in these professions by 2030.
  • Achieving the goal of health for all depends on having enough nurses and midwives who have the training, education, support, pay and recognition necessary.
  • Investing in nurses and midwives can result in improved health outcomes, health security and inclusive economic growth.

The following are some ways that health care administrators as well as nurses and midwives can participate in the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife:

Give awards.

WHO suggests giving awards and/or certificates to nurses and midwives to honor their contributions. You can then share photos on social media using #SupportNursesAndMidwives.

Take the Nightingale Challenge.

The Nightingale Challenge asks health care employers to provide leadership training for a group of nurses and midwives this year.

Showcase your DAISY Foundation honorees.

The DAISY Foundation helps to honor nurses, and if your hospital or other health care facility participates in this program, create a wall of honor to showcase your honorees.

Organize public events and meetings

WHO suggests organizing public events and meetings with nurses, midwives, health leaders, patients and others. Nurses and midwives can share their stories on stage or through videos.

Produce and display posters.

WHO also recommends producing and displaying Year of the Nurse and the Midwife posters throughout the community as well as in schools and health care facilities.