To mark World Health Day 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) — in partnership with the International Council of Nurses and Nursing Now — have released the ‘State of the World’s Nursing 2020: investing in education, jobs and leadership’ report. The report is the first of its kind and coincides with a year dedicated by the WHO to recognising the fundamental contribution of nurses and midwives make to global society.
- What is the State of the World’s Nursing 2020 Report and why is it significant?
The report is an overview of the latest data and evidence on the state of the nursing workforce across the globe, including Australia. It highlights key policy recommendations, calls on governments to increase funding for nursing leadership, education and job opportunities and outlines a vision for the future of the nursing workforce.
The report is significant because it outlines an evidenced-based plan to strengthen the global state of the nursing workforce to ensure delivery of Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals. This was highlighted by Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of the Global Nursing Now Campaign which is dedicated to raising the status and profile of nurses around the world. The report “places much-needed data and evidence behind calls to strengthen nursing leadership, advance nursing practice, and educate the nursing workforce for the future,” Lord Crisp said in a WHO press release. This statement aligns with those in the Australian Report of the Independent Review of Nursing Education released in September 2019 and titled Educating the Nurse of the Future.
- What actions does it call on Governments to take?
The global report calls on governments and stakeholders across the world to act urgently to invest in nurses. Some of the key recommendations include:
- Invest in the massive acceleration of nursing education – faculty, infrastructure and students – to address global needs, meet domestic demand, and respond to changing technologies and advancing models of integrated health and social care.
- Create at least 6 million new nursing jobs by 2030, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, to offset the projected shortages and redress the inequitable distribution of nurses across the world.
- Strengthen nurse leadership – both current and future leaders – to ensure that nurses have an ongoing influential role in health policy formulation and decision-making and contribute to the effectiveness of health and social care systems.
What vision does it outline for the future of the nursing workforce?
The report contains ten key recommendations to strengthen the future direction of the nursing workforce.
- Countries affected by shortages will need to increase funding to educate and employ at least 5.9 million additional nurses worldwide.
- Countries should strengthen capacity for health workforce data collection, analysis and use. ACN’s Workforce Sustainability Policy Chapter has been addressing these issues.
- Nurse mobility and migration must be effectively monitored and responsibly and ethically managed. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia abides by and encourages others to observe the ethical standards established by the International Council of Nurses in relation to the migration and recruitment of nurses from overseas.
- Nurse education and training programs must graduate nurses who drive progress in primary health care and universal health coverage. ACN is a higher education provider and registered training organisation (RTO) and an example of its success in delivering well -regarded programs is the awarding by the Federal government in March 2020 of 3,000 scholarships for refresher courses for Registered Nurses wishing to return to the workforce to meet the increased demand in the COVID-19 crisis.
- Nursing leadership and governance are critical to nursing workforce strengthening. The Institute of Leadership established by ACN in 2019 recognises the challenges faced in health care currently and aims to equip emerging and existing nurse leaders through its programs such as the Mid -Career Leadership Program to set the scene nationally on nurse leader capability and capacity building.
- Planners and regulators should optimise the contributions of nursing practice. ACN’s White Paper A New Horizon for Health Service: Optimising Advanced Practice Nursing (2019) has recommendations related to this topic.
- Policy makers, employers and regulators should coordinate actions in support of decent work.
- Countries should deliberately plan for gender-sensitive nursing workforce policies. ACN has a strong and passionate group fellows and members leading the way here through the Men in Nursing Working Party who have produced an eBook.
- Professional nursing regulation must be modernised. Actions include harmonising nursing education and credentialing standards, instituting mutual recognition of nursing education and professional credentials, and developing interoperable systems that allow regulators to easily and quickly verify nurses’ credentials and disciplinary history. Regulatory frameworks, including scope of practice, should facilitate nurses working to the full scope of their education and training in dynamic interprofessional teams. The detail of how some of this may be implemented in Australia is addressed in ACN’s White Paper A New Horizon for Health Service: Optimising Advanced Practice Nursing and Position Statement Leading digital health transformation: The value of Chief Nursing Information Officer (CNIO) roles. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia is also working to update the processes involved in registering nurses from countries other than Australia.
- Collaboration is key. Professional nursing associations, education institutions and educators, nursing regulatory bodies and unions, nursing student and youth groups, grass-roots groups, and global campaigns such as Nursing Now are valuable contributors to strengthening the role of nursing in care teams working to achieve population health priorities. ACN has close working relationships with nursing leaders and organisations nationally and internationally, particularly in South East Asia and the South Pacific. ACN is the professional body representing Australia at the International Council of Nurses, has relationships with the Council of Deans and is also a member of The Coalition of National Nursing & Midwifery Organisations (CoNNMO).
ACN is proud to be leading work highlighted through these recommendations. It demonstrates ACN’s innovation and our commitment to advocacy for the advancement of nursing and the profession.
You can view the full report on the WHO website.