Dedicated Nurse Thrives on Several Front Lines

ByTan Yingzi and Deng Rui October 31, 2023
Dedicated Nurse Thrives on Several Front Lines
Colleagues greet nurse Gan Xiuni at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University as she returns from an award ceremony in Beijing, at which she was awarded a Florence Nightingale Medal. [Photo/China Daily]


Florence Nightingale Medal winner recognized for work on humanitarian missions, advancing colleagues' career paths

From working on the front line during the Wenchuan earthquake to battling two of the most dangerous viruses the world has seen, "Mother Gan" has maintained an equanimity that has rallied both her patients and colleagues.

Earlier this year, 59-year-old Gan Xiuni, head of the nursing department of the Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, was announced as one of the recipients of this year's Florence Nightingale Medal.

The honor is presented biennially to nurses who show exceptional courage and devotion to caring for people during conflict or disaster, or who demonstrate a pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education.

Fittingly, during her 41 years of nursing Gan has achieved all of these feats.

On Sept 5, a ceremony and seminar were held in Beijing to commemorate the seven Chinese recipients of the Florence Nightingale Medal, including Gan.

"To me, the Florence Nightingale spirit is to show empathy, to dedicate oneself wholeheartedly and to shoulder responsibility," Gan said at her welcoming ceremony at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport when she returned home that night.

On the clinical front line, she has worked in emergency departments, operating rooms and ophthalmology and otolaryngology departments over the decades.

Gan has also served on many humanitarian aid missions, including the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the 2003 SARS outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic.

When an 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan 15 years ago, Gan was among the first to arrive in the southwestern province with the national earthquake relief medical team. For seven days, she worked nonstop, treating more than 80 critically injured patients and coordinating and organizing the transport of 90 others to Chongqing for surgery. "Mother Gan changed my destiny," said 32-year-old Zhang Haiyan, adding that Gan also helped her cope with the trauma of the earthquake.

In 2008, Zhang, then a teenager, lost her relatives and left leg when the earthquake struck her hometown Deyang, one of the hardest-hit areas in Sichuan.

"When I was desperate, it was Mother Gan who took good care of my wound, offered me food and cheered me up," she said.

When SARS broke out in 2003, Gan went to the front line and helped prepare for the construction of a hospital isolation ward.

In 2020, Gan was given the Chinese government's highest award, national model worker, for her efforts in fighting the pandemic.

"Gan is a leader with personal charisma and who always works to the limit," said Liao Chunlian, head nurse of the neurology department at Gan's hospital in Chongqing.

Dedicated Nurse Thrives on Several Front Lines
Gan checks on a patient in an intensive care unit of the Chongqing hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Photo/China Daily]


Improving standards

Thirteen years ago, Gan put forward a new nursing concept regarding patients that is still considered a leading method, Liao said.

As a member of the expert pool of the Nursing Standards Committee of the National Health Standards Committee of China, Gan is committed to the study of clinical practice in managing critically ill patients.

Her research won the Science and Technology Award of the Chinese Nursing Association in 2021. The ICU Patient Physical Restraint Assessment Scale that she developed was recognized by the association and used to establish China's first nursing standard for the physical restraint of hospitalized patients. The standard has improved clinical nursing practices for ICU patients who require restraints and has strengthened medical workers' respect for patients and their families. The standard was also presented at the 9th European Intensive Care Alliance's annual conference last year.

According to Gan's hospital, she has also established programs for the full career training and development of nurses, which have greatly improved their professional standing. Due to Gan's efforts to apply for six national specialist nurse training bases, 20 provincial-level specialist training bases and three technical training bases, Chongqing is now a pilot city for the standardized training of nurses in China.

Gan has had a hand in the training of nearly 10,000 specialist nurses at more than 100 hospitals and focused on cultivating high-level nursing talent and case management training in western China.

On May 12, 37 winners of the 49th Florence Nightingale Medal from 22 countries and regions were announced by the International Commission of Red Cross. China, with seven honorees, had the most awardees this year.

"This honor (the Florence Nightingale Medal) not only belongs to me and my hospital, but also to the whole city's health system and the Red Cross," Gan said.

Dedicated Nurse Thrives on Several Front Lines
Gan takes care of a patient who was injured during the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, in 2008. [Photo/China Daily]


(Source: China Daily)


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