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  1. Anthony, Maureen PhD, RN

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In their Commentary in this issue, authors Marilyn Harris and Barbara Piskor report on their attendance at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) meeting in Singapore last June. The ICN represents 130 national nurse organizations and meetings taking place every 2 years. Having had the pleasure of attending the ICN in Malta in 2011, I know what an amazing experience it is to be surrounded by thousands of nurses from all corners of the earth. I urge every nurse to try to attend at least once.

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One item in their Commentary caught my eye-The Korean Nurses Association wants to nominate nurses Marianne and Margaritha for their commitment and service to the people of Sorok Island-a place that would have been called a "Leper Colony" at one time. Fascinated, I had to learn more about these two nurses known as "The Angels with Blue Eyes." After graduating from nursing school in Austria in 1955, Marianne and Margaritha heard that nurses were needed on Sorok Island off the coast of Korea to care for people with Hansen disease. At that time, people with Hansen disease were ostracized from their families and the rest of society. Because it often affected teenagers, Marianne and Margaritha became mothers to the young residents, inviting them to their home for birthday parties and providing much-needed human touch to people who were deemed "untouchables." For over 40 years, they worked without pay, returning to Austria only to raise funds so they could continue their service to the people of Sorok Island.


Reading this made me wonder if a nurse has ever won a Nobel Prize, but a quick internet search suggests this has not happened. The Nobel Peace prize is awarded to a person who has conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. In 2006, nurses Kristine Gebbie and Sandy Summers wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun titled: "Nurses' Achievements Merit International Recognition" (The Truth about Nursing, 2006). The authors argued that nurses have changed the world through innovation, and cite historical examples of Florence Nightingale and Mary Breckinridge, and contemporary examples of Susie Kim (a Korean nurse who introduced new psychiatric interventions) and Elizabeth Ngugi (a Kenyan nurse who changed the way AIDS patients were cared for).


In recognition of the selfless service of Marianne and Margaritha, the Korean Nurse Association is asking people to sign their petition as they seek one million signatures. I did and it only took a minute. To read more about Marianne and Margaritha and to sign the petition, go to: http://mm.kna.or.kr/




The Truth About Nursing. (2006). The Nobel prize in nursing. Retrieved from https://www.truthaboutnursing.org/news/2006/dec/08_nobel_prize.html#gsc.tab=0[Context Link]