The Mercury


- PORTIA JORDAN Professor Jordan is the executive head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery in the Faculty of Medicine and Health sciences at Stellenbos­ch University.

NURSES are an unstoppabl­e and an incredible workforce in the health-care environmen­t. According to the database of the SA Nursing Council, there are about 400 000 nurses in South Africa, making nursing an integral and crucial part of our economy.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics in the US expects nursing job growth of 12% through 2028, much faster then the average occupation.

Nurses are the heroes of our healthcare system, caring for both sick and healthy individual­s across the world. The global Covid-19 pandemic has shown the world the important role that nurses play in keeping people healthy across the lifespan.

As our country combats the pandemic, it has been proven that nurses play a critical role in keeping the health-care system functionin­g and well managed.

The questions thus arise: What does the future of nursing look like? What role will nurses play in the future transforma­tion of health-care delivery?

The Internatio­nal Council for Nurses (ICN) annually leads the global celebratio­ns for Internatio­nal Nurses Day, which is observed on May 12. The celebratio­n marks the anniversar­y of the birth of the nursing trailblaze­r and pioneer, Florence Nightingal­e.

The theme for this year’s Internatio­nal Nurses Day is “A Vision for Future Health Care”. This implies that nurses should continue to lead in care delivery, and at the same time take responsibi­lity to transform health care and to cast a vision for health care.

Nurse innovation in the face of an unpreceden­ted global pandemic and health crisis will be the focus of the 2021 nurses’ celebratio­ns.

According to the Institute of Medicine Report published in 2010, it was then reported that nurses will lead the future. The report highlighte­d the need for more nurses to study towards degrees and to pursue speciality nursing degrees, including doctoral degrees.

In South Africa, nurses have the opportunit­y to further their qualificat­ion mix and skill sets by means of enrolling for a new undergradu­ate Bachelor and Diploma in Nursing.

Nurses who specialise will be leading the future of nursing. Their skills and knowledge will make them one of the most prominent pillars that uphold our health-care system.

The trajectory of the future in health care and nursing points towards increased digitalisa­tion. Innovation­s such as the internet of things, artificial intelligen­ce and robotics are becoming increasing­ly integrated into all industries, with health care being a leader among them.

As a crucial part of the system, nurses share a lot of contact time with patient, thus bridging the gap between the traditiona­l and new-age divide of technology with skill, understand­ing and frequent interactio­n.

Nursing schools globally are embracing technology and digitalisa­tion by means of tele-health, mobile applicatio­ns with the latest clinical practice guideline at hand on the clinical platform, virtual simulation, second life simulation scenarios, using haptic devices and electronic data capturing and patient interface systems.

Nursing and health informatic­s’ growing role is changing the way nurses record and communicat­e patient informatio­n, how care is co-ordinated, and the developmen­t of evidence-based practices is orchestrat­ed.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighte­d the enormous strain experience­d by the health system.

However, in response to this pressure, nurses as the largest provider of health care took the responsibi­lity to lead, advise, care and spearhead the revolution of the health-care system.

Nurses are at the heart of patient care; they are a linchpin for health reform and a vital link in transformi­ng delivery of care.

As we celebrate Internatio­nal Nurses Day 2021, let’s recognise nurses as “the voice to lead, who has the ability to vision and transform future health care”.

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