The Coronavirus pandemic has brought greater public awareness to the important role of nurses in caring for those who are sick. The clinical skill in delivering care is notably important and is expected by patients and their families, but it is the compassionate delivery of care that has been etched in the collective memories of the public in these recent weeks. Who can forget the surrogate role that nurses have filled for patients when their families could not be with them to hold their hand or stroke their forehead to comfort them as they battled the assault of COVID-19?

Expressing gratitude for compassionate and skillful care is important now more than ever as it fuels the resilience of nurses and reflects what is valued in care delivery by society. Providing meaningful recognition of these pure and intimate stories of nursing care reinforces the significant difference that nurses make in the lives of others. The global pandemic has caused the world to pause with greater focus on the contributions that nurses make to improve healthcare outcomes and the healthcare experience.

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife long before the pandemic arrived on our doorstep. May 12th also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale – best known as the mother of modern nursing. These two recognitions are timely. The first is a global acknowledgment of the nursing profession and a look at what nursing in the world is like today and possibly into the future. The second reminds us of the tremendous contributions that an individual nurse can have to improve patient care and a historic look at the evolution of nursing as a profession.

In keeping with the celebration of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the WHO released the first ever report on The State of Nursing in The World. The report identified what is needed by 2030 to meet the world’s demand for nursing care. Education, creating new jobs and strengthening leadership are highlighted in the report as areas of focus to meet global nursing requirements by 2030.

Investment in nursing education is needed to develop faculty, create the technological infrastructure to teach and to fill classroom seats with more nursing students. The report estimates that 6 million new nursing positions will be needed to address global inequities and projected shortages. To lead these initiatives, strong nurse leaders must be positioned to influence policy, lead healthcare systems and ensure sustainment of the accomplished goals.

Where do we begin? Perhaps at the beginning.

Florence Nightingale published her book, “Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not” in 1859. She articulated detailed observations while providing and overseeing nursing care, and communicated the value of collecting data and using the data to guide decision making regarding nursing care. Nurse researchers continue to collect data to inform care.

Florence Nightingale was also a leader at the bedside, modeling the delicate balance between the science and the artful delivery of compassionate care in her nursing practice. Though many years have passed since Florence’s observations were published, the use of data and the compassionate delivery of care have continued to be foundational to nursing.

With the challenges of Coronavirus today, the science and art of nursing is valued more than ever. Added to this mix is the need for resiliency in managing these unchartered waters of care. Clinical expertise, compassion and resiliency have emerged as critical attributes of nurses who are on the frontlines of care in this pandemic and will continue to be – no matter the healthcare challenge.

As we look to the future, we must be as observant as Florence in discerning the characteristics needed by nurses who will best contribute to and sustain nursing in the world. Recent data supports observed evidence that meaningful recognition can mitigate the effects of burnout and support resilience in the nursing workforce. Meaningfully recognizing extraordinary care communicates what is valued in the delivery of nursing care, enhancing resiliency and positioning nurses to better embrace the challenges of the future as they are recognized and celebrated for their contributions today.

The time for meaningful recognition is ALWAYS. To learn more about The DAISY Foundation and its mission to honor nurses internationally, please visit

About Cynthia D. Sweeney DNP, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN Captain, Navy Nurse Corps, US Navy, Retired Vice President for Nursing, The DAISY Foundation

Dr. Cynthia D. Sweeney is the Vice President for Nursing at The DAISY Foundation. In this role she is engaged in program development, providing the “nursing view” for The DAISY Foundation programs. Previously at the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), she oversaw the development and execution of educational products and services that support nursing certification as well as organizational credentialing. The programmatic areas she supported included ANCC Accreditation, Certification, Pathway to Excellence®, and the Magnet Recognition® program. She spent more than 40 years in perioperative clinical services as well as in academic and leadership roles. In addition, she served in the Navy Nurse Corps, retiring with the rank of Captain. A favorite role is that of Clinical Nurse Specialist in surgical services, serving as teacher, mentor and clinician in support of staff and perioperative patients. Her doctoral work at The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing focused on the use of meaningful recognition of compassionate practices in the operating room. In 2019 she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. In 2020 she received the Outstanding Achievement in Perioperative Nursing Research or Evidence-Based Practice Award by the Association of peri-Operative Nurses (AORN). She serves on a variety of boards as a volunteer. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family and boating on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.