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News

‘Nursing in the time of Covid-19’ Symposium held online

The International Nurses Day program, organized annually during Nursing Week in collaboration with Koç University School of Nursing, Semahat Arsel Nursing Education and Research Center (SANERC) and Vehbi Koç Foundation Healthcare Institutions, was held as an online symposium titled ‘Nursing in the time of Covid-19’. Professor Ayişe Karadağ, Dean of Koç University School of Nursing, gave the opening speech of the symposium, which hosted Associate Professor Gülten Koç, President, Turkish Nurses Association, Professor Sevim Buzlu, President, Council of Deans of Nursing, Dr. Füsun Avşar, Healthcare Services Manager, Health Sciences University Sultan Abdülhamid Han Training and Research Hospital, and journalist and TV host Afşin Yurdakul as speakers.

The symposium program featured a presentation of the “State of the World’s Nursing 2020” report, a training on “Nursing education in the time of Covid-19” and a panel session on “Clinical field and nursing care in the time of Covid-19”.

“Nurses: Cornerstones of Global Health”
During the program where nursing in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic was addressed, findings of the “State of the World’s Nursing 2020” report - prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Council of Nurses - related to data from 191 countries including Turkey were announced. The report highlights the need for well-trained, qualified and experienced nurses, as the fight against Covid-19, which the WHO declared a pandemic in late February, demonstrated once again, emphasizes that nurses are cornerstones of global health and underlines the necessity of empowering nurses. This is why the International Council of Nurses announced the theme of the International Nurses Day 2020 as “Nurses: Cornerstones of Global Health”.

The report quoted the words of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO: “Nurses are the backbone of the health system. Today, countless nurses are on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19. This report is a firm reminder of the important role nurses play in healthcare delivery and an urgent call for the commitment of all countries to support and invest in the nursing workforce.”

Nurses make up the majority of healthcare workers in Turkey
In Turkey, nearly 200,000 nurses serve in the healthcare sector and account for 39% of the sector’s workforce. According to the report, the global nursing workforce is 27.9 million and the shortage of nurses is estimated at 5.9 million worldwide. The report emphasizes the importance of investing in the acceleration of nursing education in undergraduate level in order to create a qualified nursing workforce and decrease shortage of nurses, give effective roles to nurses in decision-making processes, promote more nurses to leadership positions, and improve the quality of nursing education. The report estimates that addressing the shortage of nursing personnel in all countries would require an average increase of 8% in the number of yearly graduates until 2030, as well as improving employment and protection of nurses in the healthcare system.

Semahat Arsel’s message
Semahat Arsel, who has always extended her moral and material support to the development of nursing as a profession in Turkey, the founder and chairwoman of SANERC, the first higher education and research center, and chairwoman of Vehbi Koç Foundation, delivered a special message on the occasion of the International Nurses Day: “The tireless efforts of our valued healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic are a beacon of hope for us. We are grateful for everyone working selflessly in our healthcare institutions. On the occasion of May 12 International Nurses Day, I would like to thank our valued nurses in particular. The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to honor the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and to recognize nurses and midwives across the globe; and the International Council of Nurses announced the theme of the International Nurses Day as ‘Nurses: Cornerstones of Global Health’. As a proud founder of the Vehbi Koç Foundation Nursing Fund, Koç University School of Nursing, and SANERC, I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of nurses who are deeply committed to their profession. I have witnessed the nurses’ unparalleled efforts for the recovery of our patients, the vital role they play and how they work with an exemplary spirit of responsibility. In these trying times of the coronavirus pandemic, if we can still dream of a happy and healthy future, it is because of our nurses. As always, I proudly observe our modern nurses to whom we are wholeheartedly committed serve our people with their expertise and knowledge. I would like to thank you all once again.”

Professor Ayişe Karadağ: “Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system.”
Professor Ayişe Karadağ, who opened and moderated the panel session, said, “The primary objective of Koç University School of Nursing, guided by the light of science, is to raise nurses with strong clinical expertise to deliver quality nursing care. In all our plans, we as a school prioritize the development of nursing as a whole in the country, the region and the world, and lead activities to contribute to this cause. The annual programs that we organize in partnership with VKV Healthcare Institutions during Nursing Week from May 12 to 18, and the ‘Nursing Now’ campaign, in which we have represented Turkey for the last two years, are reflections of this mission. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are holding the Nursing Symposium online this year. We designed the program to ensure that it is communicated to all the nurses, educators and students across the country through nurses’ associations, 169 nursing programs affiliated with higher education institutions, Ministry of Health’s Directorate of Healthcare Professions and social networks.”

Professor Ayişe Karadağ noted that nearly 1,000 academics in 141 nursing undergraduate programs in Turkey are educating students for nursing as a profession. Professor Karadağ added that 66,000 nursing students on average are studying in these schools, and that the number of nurses in Turkey is approximately 200,000 according to the Ministry of Health's healthcare workforce data. She explained that nurses play a key role in patient care, “Just as doctors are known for saving lives, well-trained nurses also save lives and make a difference in patient care.”

Professor Ayişe Karadağ pointed out that nurses, which make up more than half of all healthcare workforce worldwide, play an important role in all aspects of the healthcare system, and continued: “Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. Historically, as is the case today, nurses all around the world have always been on the frontlines of the fight against major outbreaks. They demonstrate compassion and bravery as they help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. This report confirms that investing in the nursing profession is not a cost but a benefit for the community by highlighting the contribution of nursing. Taking action and investing in the nursing profession is essential. The World Health Organization’s report, based on available data and evidence, is a call to empower leadership in nursing, advance nursing practices and prepare the nursing workforce for the future. The proposed policies reflect the actions that we believe will ensure all countries to have sufficient number of nurses in the next decade, improve the primary healthcare services that nurses deliver, and provide the education, training and professional scope to respond to emergency situations such as Covid-19.”