Nurses are "consistently undervalued", the president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
Martina Harkin-Kelly said nurses were the “underdog of healthcare” but were also “the lynchpin of the health services”.
Ms Harkin-Kelly was speaking at the Irish launch of Nursing Now, a global campaign to raise the status of nursing.
The campaign aims to improve the recognition of nurses and their contribution to healthcare along with greater investment in nursing and increasing nurses’ input and impact on healthcare.
The three-year campaign is being run in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organisation.
“Nurses and nursing are consistently undervalued. Indeed I would say we are the underdog of healthcare yet we are the lynchpin of the health services, a pivotal driving force that ensures healthy lives and promotes wellbeing globally,” Ms Harkin-Kelly said.
She said Nursing Now aimed to change this by “demonstrating the incredible work that nurses do worldwide”.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO general secretary, said the campaign would also help make nursing more attractive for secondary school students considering the profession.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said transition year students considering nursing needed to hear from intern nurses right up to advanced nurse practitioners.
"It's very important people can see where you can go with nursing. Unfortunately in Ireland a lot of our health services are negatively reported on for a variety of reasons. There is a lot of positives and one of them is a lot of the very good careers and feedback [from nurses]," she said.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the INMO’s balloting of its 40,000 members regarding pay proposals would conclude next week.
“We’ll see what the results are and we’ll have to make decisions based on the result,” she added.
Dr Edward Mathews, the INMO director of professional and regulatory services, said: "Nursing and nurses in leadership are changing the face of healthcare delivery in Ireland and worldwide.
“Innovative and effective developments in nurse-led and delivered healthcare are improving health outcomes and delivering more economic healthcare. Fundamentally, nurses are improving lives, our society and economies and we can do more when nurses are empowered to do their job.”