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Barbara Stilwell, PhD, RN, FRCN, is on a mission. She wants nurses to be empowered. As the Executive Director of Nursing Now, a three-year global campaign run in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization, she and all those involved want nurses’ voices to be heard.
She took time to explain what Nursing Now is and what they hope to accomplish.
What is the Nursing Now campaign? Why did you start it? Why do you think it’s important?
The purpose of the campaign is as follows: Nursing Now aims to improve health and health care globally by raising the status and profile of nursing, demonstrating what more can be achieved by enabling nurses to maximize their contribution to achieving universal health coverage.
Strengthening nursing will have the additional benefits of promoting gender equity, contributing to economic development, and supporting other Sustainable Development Goals. This “Triple Impact” was identified by a British All Party Parliamentary Group in 2016 which reviewed the contribution of nursing to global health and identified the triple impact—improving health, promoting gender equality, and contributing to economic growth.
The specific outcomes of the campaign are:
- increased investment in nursing
- changes in global policy
- strengthened nurse leadership and influence
- better evidence of impact
- improved ways of sharing effective practice
The strategy for achieving these outcomes has two interconnected elements—influencing policy globally and supporting action locally. The first involves adopting a high-level influencing approach working with partner organizations and the campaign champions to influence decision makers and organizations at global and regional level to include nurses at every level of decision making.
The second involves providing support to partners locally, including professional associations and national Nursing Now groups, to influence policy nationally, and support the development of nursing and midwifery in their countries. We want the local groups to create a social movement among nurses and midwives that will support the aims of Nursing Now and result in changes being locally sustainable.
The campaign is important because all countries face enormous challenges in improving health and providing health care due to growth in non-communicable diseases, changing demography, and the impact of emerging factors such as climate change and migration, all coupled with rising demand for health care with its associated costs. Achieving this will require massive increases in health workers.
Nursing can make an even greater contribution to health in the future. This is partly because nurses and midwives between them make up almost half the professional health workforce globally. As importantly, however, that nurses are particularly well-suited to contribute even more in the future because of the way in which the whole health environment is changing. The core arguments are:
- The burden of diseases is changing with increases in long term non-communicable or chronic diseases and—as populations age—more people with multiple morbidities who are living longer (often at home) and dying at home too. There is an increasing concern to care for those with mental health problems too, especially young people. Nurses are already central to much of this home care, and their role will continue to expand.
- These changes require new, more community-based and holistic models of care as well as greater focus on health promotion and disease prevention. Implementing new models of care will require teams that, at times, should most appropriately be led by nurses because they may be best suited to plan and manage care pathways.
- Nursing philosophy, values, and practice mean that nurses are particularly well-suited to planning, implementing, and managing patient centered, community-based care with a view to the full bio-psycho-social-environmental aspects of health. Moreover, nurses often work closely with their local communities and constitute the majority of most health teams; they are ready to step up to the challenge.
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