An international health nurse may work on a wide range of global health issues in a number of settings. They may be employed by government agencies (e.g., the United Nations, the World Health Organization, or nongovernmental organizations). They also could be independent consultants. The topics of importance to global nursing include the increasing disparity in access to health care; the growing population of the poor (more than one billion people do not have access to basic health and social care, regardless of availability); the rapid environmental changes and degradation of the environment; economic recession and crises in parts of the world that affect the financing of health care; the inability of technology to face epidemics and deadly threats from diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis; the growing crises and emergencies such as internal conflicts, civil wars, and natural disasters that affect the health delivery systems and access to care.
International health nurses are committed to care for all persons across the life cycle—pregnant women, infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly—and especially vulnerable groups—the poor, refugees and displaced persons, street children, and the homeless.
In setting the future directions for global health policy, nursing and midwifery are key elements. As nurses and midwives already constitute up to 80% of the qualified health workforce in most national health systems, they represent a potentially powerful force for bringing about the necessary changes to meet the needs of health for all in the 21st century. Their contribution to health services covers the whole spectrum of health care, promotion and prevention, as well as health research, planning, implementation, and innovation.
Registered nurse licensure is required; graduate preparation in nursing or public health is desirable.
CORE COMPETENCIES/SKILLS NEEDED
■ Knowledge of major global health risks such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, smoking, and environmental hazards
■ Knowledge of epidemiology
■ Skills in community mobilization for integrated health development
■ Immunization knowledge and skills
■ Leadership skills
■ Skills in preparing nurses to be ready for emergencies and crisis situations
■ Disaster planning and intervention skills
■ Ability to enhance team building and leadership abilities of nurses as health care providers and planners
■ Public health knowledge
■ Skill in demonstrating cost-effective care through primary health care and the critical role of nurses in the health care team
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