GNLI Alumni Speak Out – Part 5

29 May 2019


‘I wanted to be much clearer and more impactful when trying to influence others’


By Colin Parish
ICN Staff Writer/Editor



Patsy Yates is a distinguished Professor and head of the school of nursing at the Queensland University of Technology, Queensland Australia. In 2018, she became President of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC), which is affiliated to the ICN.

Professor Yates joined the ICN’s Global Nursing Leadership Initiative (GNLI)TM in 2018 to help in the policymaking aspects of her day job, and in her role as President of the ISNCC.

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.

‘When I applied for the programme my main objectives were about being able to influence more effectively,’ Professor Yates says. ‘I’ve been in senior management positions, I’ve been on boards and policy committees. I’ve always thought that while I knew what needed to be done, I wasn’t always getting the message across very clearly. Being on the programme has really refined my focus and given me more confidence around influencing others’.

She says being able to influence policy at the very highest level unblocks barriers for nurses and that can lead to better outcomes for patients.

‘If you are able to influence the broader system, nursing’s contribution can be realised in a much bigger way, and some of the system barriers that stop us from getting good outcomes for our patients can be removed.’

In her new role of President of the ISNCC, Professor Yates works with colleagues from the richest and poorest countries of the world, and that was a new experience for her.

‘I knew that ICN was an important organisation for me to develop partnerships, and the GNLI programme gave me a great opportunity to do that, to learn about the World Health Organization, and to meet nurses from all over the world who can be good allies and partners in my goal to improve cancer nursing.’

She says it was a tough decision to go on to the programme, not least because of the time and financial commitment – she had to travel from Australia to Switzerland for the week-long residential workshop. But she found it a rewarding and worthwhile experience.

‘I found the programme really useful. I was absolutely delighted with the opportunity that it provided me. We were asked to reflect on our goals before we went to the programme, which was helpful so that you were focused on what you wanted to achieve.

‘When we got there, all aspects of the programme were beneficial: even if some parts would have been not that new, the opportunity to more critically evaluate where you were was such an important part of it. The personal relationships, as well as the learning, knowledge and skill-building part, and the networks that you develop – it was fabulous.’

She says the facilitators were skilled at challenging participants to frame their messages in a way that would me more likely to influence key stakeholders.

‘It was very helpful in getting us to think about what other people’s frames of reference might be and how we might need to tailor our approach to their frame of reference.

‘The most challenging bits for me were around stepping outside of what I knew about the world in Australia and really trying to appreciate the challenges that nurse face in different parts of the world. The solutions that I would find easy were never going to be so easy for some of my colleagues. I found that challenging to think that we have so much work to do to achieve good heath outcomes across the world.’

Professor Yates says the GNLI programme has given her a much deeper understanding of the policymaking process.

‘I now have some good solid frameworks and evidence to help guide the policymaking process. I have a much deeper understanding and more confidence in being able to do that. I’ve gained a good understanding of who some of the key players and stakeholders are around global nursing internationally and made some great friendships with colleagues around the world.’

She says one of the key lessons from the programme was learning to frame messages in a way that reflects the interests of other key stakeholders in the policymaking process.

In any policymaking arena, different stakeholders will have different viewpoints. By addressing these different views, it is possible to create a message that clearly expresses your objectives but at the same time demonstrates benefits for the various different stakeholders.

‘For example, we worked on a group project about trying to influence the uptake of tobacco control policies more broadly. We did a group project together and we stepped back and thought: “If I was the policy maker, what might be the sorts of reasons that this might be of interest to me?”

‘And we thought about what would be the pitch we would give and how we would present it to a service manager. That might be a different sort of message in terms of the health outcome, and for the health service, it might be in terms of savings and hospitalisations. It was really helpful in getting us to think about the outcomes that different people might want.’

After the programme, participants are asked to think about what they will do differently when they are next involved in policymaking. For Professor Yates, it is all about being heard and listened to. ‘For a whole lot of reasons nurses might not be at the table [when policies are being discussed]. For me, I was sometimes at the table, but I still didn’t feel that my voice was being heard – and there’s also perhaps the gender thing. The GNLI helped me realise I wanted to be much clearer and more impactful in the way that I was trying to influence.’

She hopes to keep in contact with the members of her GNLI group, not just because of friendships forged, but because of the wealth of experience and expertise she witnessed.

‘The chief nurse of Queensland has been accepted on to the programme, and another colleague who is a professor told me he had been accepted and asked me if I thought it was worthwhile, and I said: “Yes, of course”. Would I recommend the GNLI programme to others? I would, and I have.’

Listen to Prof. Patsy Yates: