On International Nurses Day, Emirati nurses came together to honour their work and encourage others to join the field.
Dr. Fatima Al Refaei, who founded the Emirates Nursing Association in 2003, said May 12 was a significant day for the profession because it brought attention to the critical work that nurses undertake.
Since the 1960s, she has been caring for patients. Dr. Al Refaei and all of the nurses have spent the last few years helping Covid-19 patients.
As they worked lengthy shifts, often seven days a week, at testing centres and field hospitals, they became true national heroes.
Sara Al Shamli, unit nurse manager at Seha's Ambulatory Healthcare Services, said she and her coworkers were unconcerned about the added workload and did not keep track of the hours.
"We'd be phoned in the middle of the night because a plane had landed with a suspected Covid case, or we'd be requested to travel to border testing centres," she explained.
Despite having five children, Ms Al Shamli places a high value on patient care.
She stated, "We accomplished our job. We were pleased to serve since our country needed us."
She added that she believes Covid has demonstrated to others and the globe the critical importance of nurses. She explained that they were on the front lines, caring for patients and their families while putting their own lives in peril.
Dr. Al Refaei was one of the first Emiratis to acquire a nursing bachelor's degree. She has a degree in nursing and was awarded the Abu Dhabi Award by the Crown Prince Court in recognition of the "unsung heroes of the pandemic."
She has assisted in the launch of nurse training and teaching programmes and aspires to see more Emiratis enter the field.
"I applaud Emirati nurses' dedication and hard work, as well as nurses around the world,” said Dr. Al Refaei.
170 Emirati nurses work in the Seha facilities in Abu Dhabi. Only one of them is an Emirati. The rest are mostly Asians. Significantly, the number of Emiratis entering the field is steadily increasing.
Every year on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, International Nurses Day is observed around the world to honour the contributions that nurses make to society.