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Rounds with Leadership: Exercising Thought Leadership

Published July 25, 2018

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a new forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

July 25, 2018 - Exercising Thought Leadership

According to the Global Alliance for Leadership in Nursing Education and Science (GANES), maintaining a robust nursing workforce is essential to meeting the needs of diverse patient populations and advancing global health. The worldwide shortage of registered nurses (RNs) poses a serious threat to meeting this objective and underscores the need to prepare adequate numbers of highly educated professional nurses.

Last week, AACN’s Board of Directors convened the third annual Thought Leaders Assembly, which brought together member deans, practice leaders, GANES representatives, and other stakeholders to consider strategies for strengthening the global nursing workforce. Held in conjunction with AACN’s Summer Seminar in Québec City, this event provided an opportunity for colleagues to engage in the type of generative thinking needed to spark innovation and shape AACN’s approach to elevating the nursing profession at home and around the world.

International engagement, collaboration, and population shifts have expanded the depth of scientific knowledge and the understanding that health in one nation will have impact across borders. And to that end, nursing care is integral to global health. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20.7 million of the world’s 43.5 million health workers are nurses and midwives. Despite these numbers, 48% of WHO member nations report having less than three nursing and midwifery personnel per 1,000 population. This reality is creating a demand in all corners of the globe.

When considering the underlying causes of the RN shortage, a major contributing factor is the unprecedented rate of retirement of baby-boomer-era nurses. This pattern is not specific to the United States, it is a worldwide phenomenon. Other factors that come into play include access to education, financial barriers, and employer expectations that vary from country to country. AACN will post a summary of the discussions advanced at the Thought Leaders Assembly on the website by summer’s end.

With an eye toward advancing solutions and taking strategic action, AACN is proud to be among colleagues also having these discussions, including Sigma Theta Tau, the International Council of Nurses, and, most recently, the Nursing Now campaign. Together, nursing and healthcare leaders in every nation can have a major impact on efforts focused on promoting better care, improving health, and achieving optimal wellness. 

In addition to providing an ample supply of nurses, academic leaders also have a responsibility for ensuring that new nurses are well prepared for contemporary practice. As a member of GANES, AACN is working with our colleagues to define the pillars for nursing education. The goal of this work is to create international standards for RNs that reflect best practices, are adaptable to the sociocultural context, and promote local relevance. AACN invites members to comment on the proposed pillars to ensure that all voices are considered as this work moves forward. Look for a call for comments coming via email within the next few weeks. 

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