President Kersti Kaljulaid hails Estonia's nurses on international day

Nurses in an Estonian hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses in an Estonian hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: ERR

Tuesday was International Nurses' Day, marked somewhat differently this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. President Kersti Kaljulaid also issued a greeting and congratulations on her social media page.

Estonia currently requires around 4,000 working nurses, according to ERR's online news in Estonia. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) says around an additional nine million nurses will be needed over the next decade as the result of demographic changes, that figure may grow.

Kristi Puusepp, Tallinn Health Care College (Tallinna Tervishoiu Kõrgkool) chair of nursing noted that the traditional image of a nurse's work failed to reflect how the profession is transforming.

"We are used to picturing a nurse in a hospital, holding a syringe in a hospital...But more and more nurses have an increasing range of opportunities to expand their work and tasks. One aspect of this is it means that the healthcare system requires a different organization, and maybe even a reorganization. We see family nurses working independently at a family doctor's surgery; more and more we are seeing nurses working independently in hospitals or outpatient clinics. All this has come in recent years," Puusepp said.

A total of around 500 new nurses graduate from Tallinn and Tartu higher education institutions each year. Around 85 percent of these will remain in the job for the long-term, ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Tuesday.

This year's International Nurses' Day, which has been held for around 50 years now, required more remote events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We usually have a nurses' day event, but this event could not be organized [this year] either," said nursing manager at the East Tallinn Central Hospital's (ITK) surgery clinic Kristin Lichtfeldt.

"We are coming out of this [coronavirus] emergency [situation] and what we have really done is still very much behind the scenes," she went on.

"A nurse is not just a doctor's assistant. Being both a nurse and a good person, tends to run together; a nurse looks at the patient as a whole, not just his or her illness, but his or her health [too]," Lichtfeldt went on.

One person who certainly noticed the contribution made by nurses on the international day was President Kersti Kaljulaid, who issued a video greeting on her social media site (link in Estonian below).

"Thank you, dear Estonian nurses! There are few people in Estonia who better understand why this greeting comes to you from a distance," the president noted, given the coronavirus restrictions.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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