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Spotlight Interview with Rosemary Bryant

Spotlight Interview with Rosemary Bryant

Spotlight Interview

With Rosemary Bryant
Conducted October 2009

Rosemary Bryant is the 26th President of the International Council of Nurses. Her appointment is the latest step in a distinguished career. Ms Bryant served as ICN Second Vice President from 2005 to 2009 and is a past Executive Director of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia. In 2008 she was appointed as the inaugural Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at a national level in Australia. Her career has encompassed a broad range of experience in acute hospital and community nursing, as well as in government relations.

 
ICHRN:

As the newly elected President of the International Council of Nurses, what is your vision for the ICN during the next four years?


Rosemary Bryant:

My vision for ICN is that it continues to be a vibrant, responsive and proactive organisation. There are a number of areas of activity which can contribute to this.

Firstly, I believe we should put more effort into being inclusive. This has several meanings which include increasing our membership both in terms of the number of national nurses associations (NNAs) that are members of ICN, and in terms of the numbers of the members in our national nurses associations. We must also enhance our communication with member NNAs and ensure that our activities are membership-driven.

Secondly, we must continue to strengthen our influence in the decision-making arenas around the world. Promotion and influence of nurses and nursing at the highest levels are a central component of our core business and must be one of our priority goals at international and national level.

Thirdly, and very importantly, ICN needs to remain financially strong with its future not only secure but ready to face increased challenges. We need to ensure that our funds are wisely spent and that we tap into the considerable donor funds that are available in order for our projects to be maintained and expanded. 


ICHRN:

Developing effective and sustainable approaches to health service delivery is a challenge both nationally and internationally. How do you see the role of nurses and the nursing community in improving health services, and delivering on key outcomes such as the Millennium Development Goals?


Rosemary Bryant:

The Millennium Development Goals broadly have primary health care as their focus. Nurses are the prime deliverers of primary health care in many nations and they are therefore key to achieving those Goals. Nurses also have an important role to play in health services as they form the largest of the health professions and in some countries are the sole professional health care providers for sections of the population. Nurse leaders must be involved in the development of any programmes introduced to improve health services as it is they who have the practical knowledge of how health service delivery can be designed, coordinated and effectively implemented.

 
ICHRN:

"Scaling up" the workforce has been one of the key recommendations of donors in attempting to solve the critical human resource challenges in many developing country health systems. What should be the role of National Nurses Associations (NNAs) in countries which are scaling up?


Rosemary Bryant:

NNAs have a critical role to play in scaling up of the health workforce. We are all cognisant of the need to increase both the numbers and types of health professionals to meet the health needs of our populations. We must not, however, lose our focus on the unique aspects of nursing which revolve around expert and holistic care. NNAs have an important role in ensuring that a balance between new cadres of health workers and nurses is maintained in order to provide safe care. They must be vigilant in ensuring that the nurse s role is seen to provide the coordination and prevent fragmentation of care. 


ICHRN:
In 2008 you were appointed as the inaugural Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer in Australia. Why has this post been created and what are the health human resources (HRH) challenges you face in this position?


Rosemary Bryant:

The position of Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer was created in response to lobbying from the nursing and midwifery professions for a nursing and midwifery presence within the national government. The position was seen as essential for the following reasons:

  • The increasing role played by nursing and midwifery in delivering health care and in particular primary health care to the Australian community,
  • Nursing and midwifery's increasing capacity for involvement in health policy; and
  • The fact that in an environment of nursing and midwifery workforce shortages a national approach to developing solutions to this issue and many others needed to be taken.

It is clearly a formal recognition by the Australian Government of the contribution of nurses and midwives in the health system. The HRH challenges are mainly those of supply and distribution of nurses and midwives. With the demand for health services rising and the average age of the nursing and midwifery workforce currently at almost 44 years, providing nursing and midwifery services into the future across a geographically large country with a small population is challenging. Maintaining the competence of nurses and midwives is also an important factor to consider and presents some challenges.

 
ICHRN:

On 26 March 2008 the Council of Australian Governments signed the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the Health Professions. This has previously been the responsibility of individual Australian States. What will this mean for the Australian nursing workforce?


Rosemary Bryant:

The principal effect of national registration and accreditation of health professionals including nurses and midwives is that they will only need to be registered in one jurisdiction wherever they live and work in Australia. This is particularly important for nurses who work along State and Territory borders often practising in more than one jurisdiction. It will also facilitate the movement of nurses and midwives across Australia – a particularly important consequence in emergency situations such as the devastating bushfires experienced in the south of Australia earlier this year. Having a unified registration system will provide national consistency in registration requirements for all health professionals as well as enhance the safety and quality aspects in protection of the public. 


ICHRN:
In your role as Chief Nurse Midwife in Australia you recently led a governmental review on maternity services. What have been the key recommendations to come out of the review and what will be their impact on the health workforce?


Rosemary Bryant:

The recommendations arising from the review are directed at enhancing access to birthing services and choice for women and their families. The key HRH recommendations focus on:

  • the need to improve choice and access to a range of collaborative models of maternity care;
  • supporting midwives, with appropriate qualifications and skills to play a greater role in the maternity care team;
  • supporting the maternity workforce.

These recommendations are currently being implemented with the most significant being changing the health funding mechanism – the Medical Benefits Scheme and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – to provide financial rebates for care provided by midwives. The effect of this will be that patients of midwives in private practice working in collaboration with medical practitioners will not be financially out of pocket. Women who wish to choose their private midwife and receive continuity of care throughout all phases of pregnancy and birth will then receive a rebate for the costs associated with this care.

 
ICHRN:

Do you have any advice to offer nurse leaders on how to play an active and strategic role in influencing health sector policy and planning?


Rosemary Bryant:

In my experience, the single most important factor in influencing health sector policy and planning is solidarity within the profession. The flip side of this is that disunity is often the undoing of any lobbying strategy. I believe strongly in nursing associations as the vehicle of influence to achieve nursing's goals. Unity within the profession is essential to ensure nursing's voice is heard. If there is disunity then we are perceived as being internally fractured. So I would urge nurse leaders to work through their national nursing associations and in so doing bring all nursing associations to the table, decide on what the specific goal or purpose is to be and to agree to maintain that approach in public. There is no guarantee that all nursing associations or indeed all nursing leaders will be in agreement on every issue but the aim is to reach agreement on key issues and maintain that stance in public. Other issues can then be dealt with on a case by case basis but agreement and negotiation on the key directions is essential if nursing is to have real influence in the policy arena. 


ICHRN:

Any other comments you would like to add?


Rosemary Bryant:

In conclusion, the HRH environment presents some challenges to us as nurses but at the same time provides us with opportunities to enhance and expand our roles. Nurses must play a central role in the redesign of health services and in any changes to the skill mix of the health workforce. 

Última actualización el Jueves 30 de Agosto de 2012 09:40