GNLI Alumni Speak Out – Part 4

25 April 2019


‘It’s about improving nurses’ political and policy competencies’


By Colin Parish
ICN Staff Writer/Editor


Apsara Pandey is assistant professor in the Department of Paediatric Nursing at the Maharajgunj Nursing Campus, Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu, which is the first nursing campus in Nepal.

She completed the ICN’s Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLI)™ programme in 2018. The GNLI is a strategic leadership programme that prepares very senior nurses from around the world to drive policy that improves the health of people, healthcare and the nursing profession.

Ms Pandey has been a nurse for more than 20 years, in clinical, administrative, research and educational roles. She has BA degrees in nursing and management, and Master’s degrees in paediatric nursing and sociology/anthropology.

She is Vice President of Nursing Association of Nepal (NAN) and the founding president of Paediatric Nurses Association of Nepal (PNAN).

Ms Pandey is grateful that the ICN and the Burdett Trust for Nursing were able to provide a full scholarship for her to attend the programme, as it is very difficult for nurses from low- and middle-income countries to travel to Europe for their studies.

‘I applied for the GNLI programme to improve my political and policy competencies, and my effectiveness in bringing about the policy changes that are required for the improvement of health and wellbeing of the public in Nepal.

‘As vice-chair of the Nursing Association of Nepal representing our 85,000 nurses, I have been involved in policymaking many times.

‘The programme was a wonderful experience for me. The different methodologies used to deliver each session made it interesting and easy to understand, even though English is not my first language, and the facilitators were very impressive.’

She says a session that involved a role play of a mock meeting with ministers was particularly helpful in developing an understanding of how to influence policymakers and policy.

Since completing the GNLI programme Ms Pandey has been involved in a number of important nursing initiatives. She helped launch the Nursing Now Campaign Nepal, to increase understanding about modern nursing and to encourage young people especially to join the profession.

She is also continuing in her role leading Nepal’s EpiNurse epidemiology nurse project. EpiNurses are trained to assess the living conditions of communities, and to assess their health needs in the wake of extreme emergencies and disasters, such as the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Ms Pandey is currently finalising and validating the content of an EpiNurse training manual.

So far, 140 EpiNurses have undergone the three-day training, and they are now working in their local communities. The data they collect is helping to identify the potential risk of communicable diseases and other disaster-related hazards. It will be shared with other health professionals and the Ministry of Health to help develop models that support health risk management decisions in the aftermath of disasters.

‘The role of EpiNurses could be crucial in preventing the eruption of health threats and, ultimately, in mitigating disaster risk,’ Ms Pandey says.

Ms Pandey has also been involved in the introduction of school nurses, the first time such nurses have been appointed in Nepal. A successful pilot project has seen 20 nurses placed in schools in 13 districts.

Nepalese nurses went on strike to show their strength of feeling about the school nurse project, and in protest about not having a nursing presence in the Department of Health.

‘After a long period of unrest, lobbying and struggle, we now have a Nursing and Social Security Division in the Department of Health, and the Nepal government has incorporated the school nurse programme into its health policy. This project is running very effectively and the new school nurses are so excited and happy: they are working hard to ensure its success.’

Ms Pandey is proud to have completed the GNLI programme and is encouraging other senior nurses to do the same.

‘I am very proud to have completed the GNLI programme. I enjoyed visiting the ICN office in Geneva and the headquarters of the World Health Organization, and the networking dinner was also very impressive.

‘I learned many things. I developed a better understanding of how to influence policy, especially about having a clear message that appeals to policy makers and the public, and a better understanding about the importance of working with stakeholders within and beyond the nursing profession.’

‘I have told many of my colleagues about the GNLI. When I was in Geneva, I realised it is important to involve our chief nurse, and the president of the NAN. And now the chief nurse of Nepal has applied for the GNLI, and she will be attending the programme in 2019.’

Ms Pandey says she hopes that one day Nepalese nurses will be able to benefit from ICN’s Leadership For Change (LFC)™ programme.

After all, there is good evidence that ICN leadership input can have impressive outcomes: one former Nepalese scholar on the GNLI programme in 2014, Ms Pramila Dewan, has recently become the first nurse to be appointed as Registrar of the National Academy of Health Sciences, a medical university.

Ms Pandey says she knows the programme will be useful in her career and she now has aspirations to gain promotion, perhaps to campus chief or dean of the nursing college, or even university registrar.

‘This experience has been so very important and valuable for me,’ Ms Pandey concluded.

Listen to Apsara Pandey: