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Welcome Back Spring 2020: A Message from Dean Villarruel

Dear School of Nursing Community,

It is with great excitement that I welcome all of you back to Penn Nursing for a new year and, indeed, a new decade. And with the start of 2020, so too starts the Year of the Nurse & Midwife, as named by the World Health Organization (WHO). Keep an eye out for launch activities here at Fagin Hall in the coming weeks.

The Year of the Nurse & Midwife is significant for so many reasons, chief among them is that it recognizes the singular contributions that nurses, nurse scientists, and midwives make to health and health care—and to improving the quality of life for millions of people. But the Year of the Nurse & Midwife is also significant because WHO has never declared a year to highlight any profession before. It positions nursing and midwifery appropriately: at the forefront of tackling 21st century health challenges.

The year 2020 was chosen very purposefully. Not only is it the 200th birth anniversary of groundbreaking nurse and statistician Florence Nightingale, it is also the year that WHO will launch the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report and act as a partner on The State of the World’s Midwifery 2020 report. Additionally, 2020 is the culminating year of the NursingNow! Campaign, a three-year effort to improve health globally by raising the status of nursing. It will result in critical country-level dissemination and policy dialogue around the State of the World’s Nursing report. 

Those are a lot of reasons to celebrate and reflect on our roles and achievements, and Penn Nursing—along with our co-partner, Penn Medicine—will be organizing a full year of activities and festivities to commemorate the occasion, including collaborative events with other local nursing schools and organizations. This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to elevate, celebrate, and advocate for nurses and midwives in Philadelphia and across the region. Importantly, the health of individuals, families, and communities benefit from the science, advocacy, and care of nurses across settings. Please check the new Year of the Nurse & Midwife website at for a calendar of events, including the upcoming launch activities at Fagin Hall. I look forward to seeing you at happenings throughout the year!

With all the opportunities that the Year of the Nurse & Midwife brings us, there is no more important activity throughout this year than to care for ourselves and each other. Our close community at Penn Nursing—whether you are faculty, staff, or a student—is something I see as an incredible strength, and a key factor in our successes and achievements. Not one of us meets our goals in a vacuum. With this in mind, please find opportunities to engage in acts of kindness—with all those with whom you interact—as you celebrate the Year of the Nurse & Midwife. And look for ways to be kind to yourself.

Penn Nursing and the wider university have several events planned this semester for all in our community that will provide us opportunities to learn new skills and be connected to each other. Starting with January 20, the university will sponsor a Day of Service to honor Martin Luther King. Coming up in February, Penn Nursing will host a Penn Violence Prevention and Response training and also a meditation session. In March I’ll be hosting a Wellness Fireside Chat. And later in the semester look for events such as a financial wellness workshop, a Baking for Students event, and National Employee Health and Fitness Day (observed every year on the third Wednesday of May).

Penn Nursing, like the broader Penn community, is committed to helping people take care of their minds, bodies, and souls every day—because in order to give our best, we must ensure that we are taking care of ourselves. The Year of the Nurse & Midwife celebrates us all and the work we do, but we must never forget that the Nightingale Pledge exhorts each of us to be a “missioner of health”—all health, including our own. If you have ideas for self-care and/or community-building events, please contact Holly Marrone, Penn Nursing’s Director of Human Resources.

So again, welcome back and let the celebration of the Year of the Nurse & Midwife begin!