Dean Frazier sitting on couch in office smiling.

Nurses Week Message from Dean Frazier

Dear Columbia Nursing Community,

This year, National Nurses Week has taken on greater meaning than ever before, with the pandemic shining a spotlight on nurses’ contributions to society. We’re being universally hailed for our courage, for putting our lives on the line to help those stricken with COVID, and for our compassion in the face of this unprecedented tragedy.

But to those of us in the profession, and about to enter the profession, this is nothing new. The competencies we’re marshaling against COVID are nothing more, or less, than the bedrock values of our profession. These values represent a commitment we each make the day we decide to become a nurse—no matter what is happening in the world, no matter what circumstances might arise as our careers evolve.

This is an ethos that was born in the middle of the 19th century, when Florence Nightingale was first conceiving of the profession as we know it today. Tomorrow—May 12—marks the 200th anniversary since Nightingale herself was born. Among her legacies is nursing’s commitment to serve patients at every level of society, regardless of their race or religion, and to respond to the call of duty in any situation, even on the battlefield. Nightingale was also an early advocate for gender equity, crusading for women’s right to serve society as nurses, not just on the home front.

Columbia Nursing’s Anna Maxwell, the founding dean of our school, is known as the “American Florence Nightingale.” She was already a champion of these principles when she took the helm as our first dean in 1892, and she built a legacy of excellence that we have been honoring for more than 125 years since then.

Today, as we mark National Nurses Week, we pay tribute to that foundation, laid over a century ago, and to nurses’ enduring role as what I like to call “the backbone of health care.” Nursing, now more than ever, is central to the health care system’s structure and essence. My hope is that our collective voice as a profession will continue not just to be heard but will be accorded ever more resonance and influence, that our expertise and leadership will not just be sought out but will be celebrated, for generations and centuries to come.

Today, I honor you—Columbia Nursing’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni—for your most valued service to our school and our profession.

I close with a few inspirational words to mark the focus on nurses this week and of how proud I am to be your dean: 

Lorraine Frazier, RN, PhD, FAAN
Dean, Columbia University School of Nursing
Mary O’Neil Mundinger Professor of Nursing
Senior Vice President, Columbia University Irving Medical Center