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A Year of Rising to the Challenge

It has now been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Penn Nursing community is not immune from fear, uncertainty, setbacks, and profound loss. It has been a hard year, but we have demonstrated over and over again that we can do hard things—and we are stronger than ever. The poem written by Amanda Gorman, our first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States echoes these sentiments:

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division*

Nursing is key to healing division. It requires both courage and leadership to do what is right for the patient or necessary to improve the public’s health. Nowhere have we seen that more obviously than the commitment we see among nurses and midwives to social justice. One simply cannot be an effective nurse without advocating for health care that promotes equity for all people: it is the very cornerstone of what we do.

In this issue of Penn Nursing we highlight the many ways in which social justice, a core value of our School’s mission, is lived and carried out through faculty and student research, in student learning and projects, and in alumni careers and beyond. I know the stories contained here are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The commitment and recommitment to our Penn Nursing principles and values during these challenging times guides our research, practice, teaching, and advocacy. Our collective community—at Penn Nursing, on campus, and beyond—supports our efforts to participate in meaningful change wherever we practice, live, work, and play.

I hope you are inspired by the people and stories in this issue of Penn Nursing, as well as by what we have seen in the media. Given the pandemic and the heroic efforts of nurses worldwide, I’m delighted to share with you that the Year of the Nurse and Midwife continues into 2021! You might remember that the World Health Organization declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse & Midwife to highlight the role of nurses in improving public health around the world. The pandemic only served to shine a brighter light on that role—so much so that we will celebrate, elevate, and advocate for nurses and midwives for an extra year. Please visit 2020nurseandmidwife.org for information and events.

Thank you for being a part of our community—and for maintaining your commitment to social justice with us and through us. Our collective shared values are a source of strength and pride to me, as I hope they are to you.