By Emily Messmer, FNP, SMGOR Family Medicine

Globally, the nursing profession is celebrating a milestone in 2020, as the World Health Organization declares it the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Florence Nightingale, if you’re unfamiliar, was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th and 20th century policies around proper medical care. She began trailblazing the groundwork for modern nursing back in the 1800s and has helped shape what we know as nursing today.

Without question, nurses play a vital role in providing health services globally and are often the only point-of-care in many communities. Nurses, including myself, cite many reasons for choosing a pathway in the field of nursing, with one being they wish to devote their lives to caring for others and working to meet the needs of those in their community. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This quote has always resonated with me, and perhaps others in the field of health care, as my profession has allowed me to be a catalyst for change, not only by impacting those on a personal health level but by helping to improve my community as a whole.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to recognition of many heroic acts and the unwavering care of health care workers and others on the front lines. Thankfully, leading up to this, there have been countless nurses throughout the years who have allowed nursing to take flight.  For me, I took a strong interest in family nurse practitioner work after shadowing a rural Colorado nurse practitioner early in my career as a nursing student.  It was during that rotation, I realized the impact I could have practicing health care in a rural community.  There is something very satisfying when you’re able to see the impact you can make on those around you.

Today, I am grateful for my career in nursing and for those who paved the way before me.  This year, more than ever is a time to stop, reflect on where we have been, and continue to focus on where we were are going, so we can truly be the change we wish to see in our communities.

Emily J. Messmer, FNP, received her undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky University and obtained her BSN and MSN-FNP from the University of Colorado at Denver – School of Nursing. She is a board-certified nurse practitioner and practices at Summit Medical Group Oregon’s Eastside Bend Clinic.