Jacqueline Bloomfield and Karen Strickland
For referencing Bloomfield J. & Strickland K. Editorial. Australian Journal of Cancer Nursing 2020; 21(1):2.
I am currently self-isolating for 3 days, having recently undertaken precautionary testing for the coronavirus. This has provided me with the valuable opportunity to reflect on how profoundly things have changed in the 6 months since our last editorial.
The world has changed from the one we knew in ways that few would ever have imagined; a health crisis on a scale that has not been experienced since the global Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–1919. This has brought with it a drastic change to how we live, work, interact with our families and socialise with our friends. Social isolation, home schooling and work ‘pivots’ – even bulk-buying of items we would never have previously thought essential – have become the new norm. What we now consider to be ‘normal life’ is extremely different to that experienced just a few short months ago.
In Australia, we have been incredibly fortunate that the cases of COVID-19 have been relatively low. Although every related death has been tragic, we have collectively managed to ‘flatten the curve’. Furthermore, from many accounts, we have, as a population, managed to embrace kindness, compassion and consideration of others – attributes that, as nurses, we are very familiar with, yet which seem to have taken the world by storm.
In recent months nurses have attracted widespread public acknowledgement and admiration like never before. The UK and USA have, arguably, led this long overdue recognition by encouraging public displays of gratitude and appreciation. We have witnessed public applause and hero worshipping that has elevated the image of nurses to levels previously unknown. Yet, as nurses, we have done what we have always done and will continue to do in our roles as health professionals. We have been there for our patients, we have cared for them with respect and dignity, and we have advocated for and protected the vulnerable. We have demonstrated knowledge and skills and combined these with the compassionate care that every patient requires and deserves. Despite COVID-19, this has not changed.
This new-found public recognition of nurses, therefore, needs to be taken with caution. While rightly recognising the sacrifices and challenges that many nurses have recently faced in the midst of this pandemic, we must be careful not to reinforce traditional stereotypes. Depicting nurses as angels, saints and even super heroes does little but compound long-held misconceptions, thereby undermining the real essence of nurses’ work and professional status. Compassion and kindness are essential to nursing, yet nurses also require intelligence, critical thinking ability and judgement. Yet, where have these traits shone in recent accolades?
As we think about future challenges, we, as editors, pose a challenge to you as readers of this journal. If you are passionate about cancer nursing and wish to contribute to the ongoing development of the cancer nursing profession, we invite you to consider becoming a peer reviewer of manuscripts submitted for publication. As well as playing an important role in maintaining the quality of the journal, being a peer reviewer provides the opportunity to share your expertise, develop your career and professional reputation, and keep up to date with new developments in the field of cancer nursing. If you are interested please submit a brief application as outlined in the advertisement in this issue.
As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, we encourage you to access the COVID-19 resources for cancer nurses available on the CNSA website. We also hope that you and your families stay safe and keep well.
Jacqueline Bloomfield • RN, PhD, MN, PGDip (Prof Healthcare Ed), PGDip (Midwifery), PGCert (Onc Nursing), BN
University of Sydney Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
Karen Strickland • RN, PhD, MSc, PGCert, BSC, FHEA, FEANS
Professor of Nursing and Head of School, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Public Health, Building 10, Room 34, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT, Australia