Chief Nurse Blog: Nursing Matters May 2022

11 May 2022

In May 2022, I celebrate my first-year anniversary with ICN.

We unite to amplify International Nurses Day (IND) recognition, visibility, and action across the world.

In 2022, the theme for IND is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health. It focuses on the need to invest in nursing and respect the rights of nurses to build resilient, high quality health systems to meet the needs of individuals and communities now and into the future #VoiceToLead #IND2022 ICN Voice to Lead

The global reach, scale and scope of nursing dedication is unprecedented and deserving of deep respect for the valued contributions from nearly 28 million nurses globally. Nurses continue to deliver nursing services across diverse practice settings and sectors - from direct front line care delivery at the bedside, managing and leading, advocating and representing in boardrooms, teaching, and mentoring in health system classrooms, to influencing as bureaucrats and through associations to advance meaningful policy.

Nurses advocate for their patients around the world. They also have the right to advocate for themselves professionally. Fundamental respect for safe work environments, access to vaccinations, decent working conditions, and fair compensation for nurses is paramount. The ICN Code of Ethics guidance supports nurses as we endure complex conditions and demands . Investing in nursing education, jobs and leadership is investing in national and world health, including our direly needed health care workforce. Why? People matter, global health matters, nurses advancing health and service delivery of health care matter!

The ICN/CGFNS International report, Sustain and Retain in 2022 and Beyond- The global nursing workforce and the COVID-19 pandemic casts a glaring spotlight on the nursing workforce and calls for a compelling 10-year action plan to mitigate the six million global nursing shortfall which preceded COVID-19. Post-pandemic, that shortfall is likely to be closer to 13 million nurses over the next decade - nearly half of our nursing workforce today.

The revealing data in this report highlights the glaring human supply and demand challenges. Crucial dialogue to advance national strategic directions including leveraging Chief Nurse expertise is required. Decisions driving investment and policy commitments must be expedited to stabilize our global health and workforce gaps.

Investing in quality primary care and the capacity of nurses and health workers is pivotal to achieving universal health care. Nurses are a major solution for securing global health, optimizing access to care, and achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to promote human rights - including nurses’ rights - advance gender equity for the profession and empower and enable nurses to sustain global health. The risk to global health is mitigated by investing in nurses.

Investing in the asset of nursing education and nursing leadership increases the value of nursing assets over time as drivers for current and future health. The interest accumulates in the profession. An investment in nursing through capital of time, effort and money has great payoff in dividends to maximize returns on world health. Health workforce impacts could be realized in short, medium, and long term planning by retention policies aimed at sustaining the nursing profession as knowledge workers, capacity builders, compassion champions and transformational system leaders across countries. Nurses must also invest in themselves through self-care – your holistic health matters!

Invest in nursing, respect nurses’ rights, nurture and support the profession who care for the world, your countries, your communities, your families and yourselves.

Yours in Nursing and Health,

ICN Chief Nurse Michelle Acorn, DNP, NP PHC/Adult, CGNC, FCAN, FAAN