Nightingale Challenge inspires the next generation of nurse and midwife leaders during 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

28 June 2019

Geneva, Switzerland; Singapore, 28 June 2019 - A new global initiative brings together health employers to inspire the next generation of nurses and midwives as practitioners, advocates and leaders in health.

Launched today at the International Council of Nurses Congress in Singapore, the Nightingale Challenge asks every health employer around the world to provide leadership and development training for a group of young nurses and midwives during 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.


“It is essential that nurses are enabled to play a bigger role in multi-disciplinary teams, working to their full potential to innovate, to lead and to advocate,” said Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). “We hear, time and again, that nurses are being held back as leaders. We need to seize the opportunity that 2020 gives us to shape a different future for our profession by investing in the next generation. By accepting the Nightingale Challenge we give them new skills, experiences and confidence - together we will take down the barriers that hold nurses back and see our profession soar to greater heights.”

The Nightingale Challenge asks every employer of nurses and midwives to accept the challenge with the aim of having at least 20,000 nurses and midwives aged 35 and under benefiting from this in 2020, with at least 1,000 employers taking part. Each employer will determine how best to respond to the Nightingale Challenge but their programmes must include an opportunity for personal development, to learn about leadership and the wider organisation, and are not purely clinical. Examples of programmes could include any mix of formal course, mentoring, shadowing or learning from other professionals or sectors.

“The Nightingale Challenge is an opportunity for all participating organisations to be part of a great global movement to develop nursing and midwifery,” said Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of the Nursing Now campaign. “By accepting the Nightingale Challenge, you are demonstrating your commitment to investing and championing nursing and midwifery at a time when the two professions will be enjoying global attention through the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.”

“The Nightingale Challenge is an integral part of Nursing Now’s aim to improve health globally by raising the profile and status of nurses,” said Sheila Tlou, Co-Chair of the Nursing Now campaign. “If we are serious about achieving rapid and high quality health for all, governments, employers and health leaders must make investing in nursing and midwifery their number one goal for 2020.”


Mulago Hospital, Uganda’s primary public referral and teaching hospital, is one of the Nightingale Challenge’s early adopters. Their plans for the Nightingale Challenge involve multiple cohorts of twenty young nurses aged 35 and under, who are being channelled into development programmes that include training and skills enhancement in leadership and applied research, and opportunities for further training at diploma and degree level in areas relevant participants’ future career ambitions.


ICN has launched a new ICN Nursing Policy Leadership Programme to help meet the challenge set by Nursing Now.  This new initiative delivers short, effective, local programmes to develop established and emerging nurse leaders in hospitals, community services, universities, regulators, ministries of health and nongovernmental organisations. This unique offer focuses on developing both individual leaders and their organisations, and the synergy of both. Tailored to each organisation's needs and circumstances, it is cost-effective, offers partnerships with regional and global health organisations, and badges your organisation as a visible and active partner in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020.


This new programme complements ICN’s long-standing leadership programmes:

The ICN Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLITM), a strategic leadership programme, prepares top nurses from around the world to drive policy that improves the health of people, health care and the nursing profession.


The ICN Leadership for Change (LFCTM) programme, which aims to prepare nurses with the  leadership skills that are required to implement organisational change for the purpose of improving nursing practice and achieving better health outcomes.


Employers can find out more, access resources to support their plans and accept the Nightingale Challenge by visiting  


Click here to access the Nightingale Challenge brochure.



Note for Editors

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses’ associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally, ICN works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.

For further information please contact

Gyorgy Madarasz, Press Officer, International Council of Nurses, Tel: +41 22 908 01 16