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Celebrating International Nurses Day and International Day of the Midwife

Thursday, 27 May 2021

By Alison Patrick, Interim Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer

Nurses and midwives have never been more important to the health and wellbeing of people in our region. This year at Barwon Health, we are celebrating nurses and midwives with a focus on our next generation of leaders in nursing and midwifery. The theme of International Nurses Day on May 12 was “A Voice to Lead”, while International Day of the Midwife on May 5 was centred around investment in midwives.

In the past 12 months with COVID-19 being at the front of everyone’s minds, our nurses and midwives have been seen by many as the face of our healthcare services. Those nurses and midwives worked in full protective equipment throughout the first and second waves of the pandemic, with some now out vaccinating our community and continuing to work hard to keep us all safe.

Nurses and midwives are regularly identified as the most trusted of professions and yet many people fail to recognise just how central to a successful healthcare system they are. In 2021 our nurses and midwives have ensured Barwon Health continued to meet the health care demands of the local community as well as supporting other communities and aged care sectors within the region during Covid -19 outbreaks. Nurses and midwives make up by far the greatest number of employees for our organisation. They are the often the first people you meet when you come to the health service and they are always the ones who will spend the most time with you during an overnight or extended stay.

Our young registered nurses and midwives are incredibly skilled, each holding at least a University Bachelor’s degree in Health Science and many studying further to hold double degrees or advanced qualifications. The modern nurse and midwife is a skilled technician alongside their clinical skills and a caring and compassionate member of the health team, caring for a patient’s physical and emotional wellbeing while educating them and advocating for their best health outcomes. These staff undertake complex procedures and tasks, such as inserting intravenous devices, managing complex wound dressings, and undertaking a wide range of physical and mental health assessments. They work in a range of settings not just acute care hospitals, but in the community, in peoples homes and across the aged care and disability sectors. In some circumstances, they can prescribe medications and other investigations, manage broken bones and stitch wounds. They routinely birth babies, manage unconscious patients and those requiring multiple and complex drug infusions, including chemotherapy and renal dialysis. Throughout the health care journey our nurses and midwives advocate for their patients, ensuring the care being delivered meets each individual’s goals and values

At the same time, it is generally your nurse or midwife who is responsible for coordinating your care with the broader multidisciplinary team, monitoring your response to treatment and escalating any concerns. Nurses and Midwives by and large run the hospital operations both in and out of hours, often as the most senior leaders in the health services across the Barwon South West region, including a number of our CEOs.

Barwon health’s new strategic plan 2020-25 identifies three strategic priorities to deliver its purpose of providing best care, every person, every day so that everyone feels better. Nurses and midwives are critical to our capacity to deliver best care to the people in our hospitals and closer to people’s homes and local communities. We are working with university partners to train and support the next generation of nurses and midwives for our region, ensuring we can continue to recruit and retain the best of them to meet the needs of our community into the future.

During this week when we celebrate nurses and midwives in our community with colleagues around the world, we want to recognise some of our outstanding young staff for their contributions, along with celebrating all nursing and midwifery staff at Barwon Health who care for us all across our lifetime, from birth through childhood and into old age. These nurses and midwives care for us and our families through acute and chronic diseases, in pregnancy and birth through to palliative care and death, our nurses and midwives are a critical component of keeping us all safe, well and in good health and should be celebrated for their enormous contribution. So during this one week in May please make sure you reach out and thank the Nurses and Midwives you know for the work they do.