Florence Nightingale International Nurses Day 2007 in the Philippines

General Santos City, May 12 - For the first time in the Philippines, something extraordinary was held for and by the nursing community. While many nurses are glued to this Sunday as a day for moms, professional nurses and student nurses came to Notre Dame of Dadiangas University to celebrate this year's finest event for them: Florence Nightingale International Nurses Day. There was reason to celebrate this time after months of being beseiged with negative items about the nursing profession in the country. Another reason to celebrate is to bring attention the nursing community's contribution to local health care sector from hospitals to clinics to barangay health workers to companies to schools to rehabilitation centers.

A whopping 339 participants came with a good delegation from Notre Dame Midsayap College. This school is over 150 kilometers up north and this delegation had 11 students and about 5 clinical instructors including their school dean.

This event marked with so many firsts and quite historic at that. The morning activity had two (2) sessions done on parallel basis. Mira Rosali who is an incoming senior student of the University's College of Nursing acted as convenor for the student session. Joan Braga and Lyka Senarillos emceed the occasion. In the opening remarks, Mira rose to the occasion telling the essence of this celebration to her fellow students. She likewise called their attention to join in the global signature campaign, Nightingale Declaration. This is a pretty good reminder as one may be able to take an unprecedented opportunity to join 10 million nurses and concerned citizens from all nations in a campaign to demonstrate the nursing profession’s influence in achieving a healthy world. The goal of this campaign is to demonstrate nursing support for two proposed UN Resolutions to the 2008 United Nations General Assembly to establish:
  • 2011-2020 as the United Nations Decade for a Healthy World
  • 2010 as the International Year of the Nurse
At the University Auditorium, the Beta Nu Delta Nursing Society-led student session had Ethel Vera Laquihon who is currently a project officer of World Vision Development Foundation as its resource speaker. She spoke on tuberculosis prevention efforts of her organization. Reminding the audience that:
"More than a decade after it was identified as a global health emergency, tuberculosis remains one of the world's leading infectious causes of death among adults. About one-third of the world's population, or two billion people, carry TB bacteria, although most never develop active TB disease. The disease has been on the rise since the 1980s, with its spread concentrated in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Much of TB's resurgence is directly connected to the HIV/AIDS pandemic -- especially in Africa where HIV is the most important factor determining the increased incidence of TB. Worldwide, an estimated one-third of the near 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS are co-infected with TB. The emergence of drug-resistant TB, particularly in settings where many TB patients are also infected with HIV, poses a serious threat to TB control, and confirms the need to strengthen prevention and treatment efforts."
She ended her presentation with a challenge from the student nurses to actively participate in TB prevention.

This session attracted 278 students, a best reason for Beta Nu Delta members to be happy. It was during this event that the five-minute video clip of Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo, RN was shown to students over a big screen on stage.

A ceremonial donation of health-related CDs was done with Prof. Jerome Babate handed over a pack each for the school chapters. NDDU was represented by Mira Rosali in behalf of Jovelyn Alaba and Marianne Quinones in behalf of Clyde Baculio for the General Santos Doctors Medical School Foundation.

On the distaff side where the event was held at Rogan Alumni Hall, Prof. Jose Dagoc, RN MAN gave a very good account of his lecture-workshop entitled, "Monitoring Progress, Evaluating Student Outcome" to 47 professional nurses. The workshop component was really interesting as this open new avenue of understanding evaluation in the real sense. The workshop deals with the selection, construction, and administration of tests used for formative and summative evaluation of students in the health professions. The workshop also guide participants in the use of computer software in calculating and assigning grades as well as test results interpretation. The workshop also provide tips on giving and receiving feedback. Maela Babate RN did a masterful coordination of this session.
In the afternoon, Joann Sienes the VP of the local nurses association opened the ceremony with a message from the chapter's president, Leah Berango, RN who at this time still recuperating from her ailment.

The penultimate event in the afternoon saw a recap of Darlene Borromeo's video clip that immediately elicited positive remarks due to this technological wonders. "Grabe! the presentation was really great", enthused Dianne Fronda, RN who is the national secretary of the Beta Nu Delta Nursing Society. However, it was Darlene's remarks "on becoming a passionate nurse" that resounded well to one of the Day's award recipients--Minerva Lumawag, RN-- who on her acceptance speech reverberated the challenge, "to be more passionate and to keep that fire burning in our hearts". Darlene's video clip will soon be made available to the website of the Beta Nu Delta Nursing Society.

After the awesome video clip presentation, no less than a warm greetings from the International Council of Nurses was read. With Jovelyn Alaba taking the podium and read Prof. Hiroki Minami's letter wherein she "calls attention to the crucial importance of a quality health care workenvironment that supports the delivery of safe, high quality and efficient health services. To mark this IND theme, ICN is launching a global call to address and improve the seriousdeficiencies currently existing in the health work environment in all regions. The ongoingunderinvestment in the health sector in many countries has resulted in a deterioration ofworking conditions. This has had a serious negative impact on the recruitment and retentionof health personnel, the productivity and performance of health facilities, and ultimately onpatient outcomes. Positive practice environments (PPE) must be established throughout thehealth sector if national and international health goals are to be met."

The guest speaker, Ian Mariano who is actually based in Singapore flew in that day, had a great time with the nursing community. Speaking on the broad project of women and health advocacy of the Public Services International which is a France-based global non-government organization, Ian captivated the audience with his insights capped from his actual experience as a health worker and a reputation of solid international linkage in the Asia Pacific region. His lecture on workplace violence in the health care sector drew immediate attention to the plight of the nursing community's violent experiences within their environment.

"Violence at work has become an alarming phenomenon worldwide. The real size of the problem is largely unknown and recent information shows that the current knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg. The enormous cost of violence at work for the individual, the workplace and the community at large is becoming more and more apparent. Although incidents of violence are known to occur in all work environments, some employment sectors are particularly exposed to it. Violence includes both physical and non-physical violence. Violence is defined as being destructive towards another person. It finds its expression in physical assault, homicide, verbal abuse, bullying, sexual harassment and threat. Violence at work is often considered to be just a reflection of the more general and increasing phenomenon of violence in many areas of social life which has to be dealt with at the level of the whole society. Its prevalence has, however, increased at the workplace, traditionally viewed as a violence-free environment. Employers and workers are equally interested in the prevention of violence at the workplace. Society at large has a stake in preventing violence spreading to working life and recognizing the potential of the workplace by removing such obstacles to productivity, development and peace. "

Ian's remarks was a fitting reference to the Day's theme - Positive Practice Environment: Quality workplaces = quality patient care.

The greetings of President of the New Jersey Board of Nursing, Prof. Leo Jurado was read by Clyde Baculio. According to him he "realize that there are so many things to accomplish in making our work places more magnetic for us to be able to provide the highest quality of care particularly in our native land. There is also continued scarcity of resources. But one thing I know for sure, there is the Filipino nurse presence in every corner of the world bringing a caring smile as we provide nursing to the sick, infirmed and even to healthy individuals. I encourage all of you to capture these moments of passion to our profession."

However, the highlight of the Day was the giving of the Silver Nightingales Award to fourteen (14) local nurses who had exemplified themselves in nursing practice for at least, twenty (25) years or so. On their acceptance, Award's recipient Caridad Sucia made a good impression when she told the crowd, "we are the only few who are staying in the Philippines and will continue to stay." Marilyn Aponesto, RN who is the administrator of the Howard Hubbard Memorial Hospital was really happy that she said "we must continue helping the Philippine Nurses Association so we can elevate a bit higher our profession". For the first time in as many years, the "old guards of the nursing profession in General Santos City" came and was recognized.

Making the final well-wishers of the day was a colleauge from Down Under. The head, school of nursing, Autralia Catholic University also sent her message a day before and was read by Jovelyn and it was worth quoting:

"It is my belief that the International Nurses Day that is celebrated yearly is an importantday to recognize the contribution of nurses but I also firmly believe that the contributionof nurses should be celebrated everyday for there is a motto in Australia and I quote:“NURSES: We cannot live without them.”

Likewise, academic excellence citations were handed to eight (8) nurses however only (2) were present. Prof. Jose Dagoc and Prof. Ma. Antoniette Edris each received their awards and exhorted the audience to aspire for higher education beyond the baccalaureate level. This recognition will help inspire our nurses to enroll and obtain masteral and even doctoral degrees according to Prof. Edris.
Right before the closing remarks, IND 2007 Chair and president of the Notre Dame International Nursing Alumni Network, Prof. Jerome Babate launched the Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo Student Nursing Leadership Award as a flagship leadership development program of the Beta Nu Delta Nursing Society and is largely supported financially by the Award's bearer, Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo. At long last, the student nurses saw an opportunity to work hard and being recognized. This award will be given on December 2007 and hopes to attract student nursing leaders from different nursing schools at least in the SOCCSKSARGEN region. As Jay Esgana of the Philippine Nursing Student Association said, "this is good for us".

Prof. Jose Dagoc who sat at the back panel of the auditorium affording him the opportunity to look up the huge crowd had a very nice comment, "surely we will make this (International Nurses Day) an annual event". When asked if he likes to chair next year's event, he quipped "perhaps I will still be around by that time", indicating a willingness to take the task in the future.
However, the day's success was quite a relieving experience. Students were in the forefront of all the initiatives. Professional nurses who are the influential personalities in the workplaces came to listen and witness. Paradigm shifts had started to sift in in the consciousness of so many. Opportunities were carved and would soon be carved.
There is really enough reason to celebrate nursing.
FJ Babate is the national president of the Beta Nu Delta Nursing Society.