Chief Nurse Blog: Nursing Matters December 2021

22 December 2021

Student Engagement as Future Nurse System Leaders

My final 2021 blog will highlight the importance of student influence as our next generation of global health leaders.

The ICN 2020 International Year of the Nurse survey highlighted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 70% of our National Nursing Associations (NNAs) identified education and clinical placement disruptions delaying graduation and impacting the supply of nursing workforce. The strength of our future nursing workforce depends on a continuous quality nursing education pipeline and retention of early career nurses who are vulnerable to drop out and burnout. It is crucial to ensure our nursing population is supported, motivated and balance their competence and confidence in quality care delivery.

RN Erica Burton, ICN Senior Advisor, has been leading the student, early career nurse and youth communities since 2015. In 2018, two interns participated in the launch of the Nursing Now Campaign and the World Health Assembly (WHA) first student delegation. One of these interns, Julian Vadell Martinez, continues to work closely with ICN. The ICN Nursing Student Steering Group (NSSG) was created to support the work on student engagement at ICN and in global nursing policy. Members of the NSSG formed an ICN Student Delegation to the World Health Assembly this year, have brought the student voice to a number of other meetings throughout the year and have been developing and strengthening relationships with student groups around the world.

The ICN 2021 Student Assembly “For students by students” was conducted in two time zones and virtually attended by 550 global students. CEO Howard Catton and Chief Nurse Michelle Acorn provided greetings. Rhama Nemer Silmi (UAE representative planning committee), Avani Jain and Ayush Belwal (SEARO representatives) highlighted nursing history, showcased hospitals, and celebrated famous nurse contributions in the UAE. The first panel focused on pandemic challenges and solutions related to education and practice thanks to speakers from Indonesia, Taiwan, UAE, Chile, Tanzania and Norway. The second panel targeted mental health, resiliency and strengths-based capacity building with presenters from Australia, India, UAE, Mexico, Malawi and Spain. The third panel explored nursing students’ vision for future health systems including panelists from Bahrain, Japan, Thailand, Canada, Ethiopia and Portugal.

Student Assembly participants contributed to a closing word cloud on why they chose nursing as a profession. Key take-aways included creating a village across the globe and through technology; voices and connections were paramount; and the present day and future for nursing education, nursing and the world is bright.

We thank the NSSG for all their work to support students and, in 2022, we will be consulting widely with our associations about how we can strengthen the student and youth voice within ICN’s work.

Wishing you health, happiness and peace over the holiday and New Year.


ICN Chief Nurse, Dr. Michelle Acorn, DNP, NP, CGNC, FCAN, FAAN