International Nurses Day 2022: A Voice to Lead - Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health

Every year the International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates International Nurses Day on May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. This year’s theme: Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health is a multifaceted call to allocate resources to educate more nurses and expand their scope of practice to meet the global demand and provide health equity across populations. In tandem, it is also a call to recognize that nurses are key stakeholders in any health system and therefore should be given more roles in policy development and leadership. But before we delve into the 2022 theme, let’s step back to a year we will all remember…2020 - The year the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. 


Was. It. Ever.


The Covid-19 pandemic showed the world in real-time that nurses are the backbone of any healthcare system, accounting for more than half of the occupational health sector. Despite no vaccines, global supply shortages of medical necessities, chronic short-staffing, emotional and physical fatigue, nurses have been resilient and committed to delivering essential services. They have proven themselves on the frontline and now is the opportunity to optimize the contribution of the profession by giving them a voice to lead.


As we think about this year’s 2022 International Nurses Day theme - invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health, it is advantageous to examine the findings from the first ever State of the World’s Nursing report published in 2020.  The report was a collaborative undertaking between the WHO, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the Nursing Now campaign, with support from international governments and partners. The document provides important data and evidence on multiple fronts regarding the current state of the global nursing workforce. Of note, it concludes that “The social and economic undervaluing of nursing work limits nurses’ opportunities to participate in decision-making and become leaders within health care systems.” To mitigate these barriers change needs to occur at all levels of health care where policy development and implementation affect the health and social well-being of the population. To achieve this, nurses should be considered for leadership positions since their perspectives and experiences need to be regarded as equally essential as other health professionals’ input.  


Stakeholders in the health care industry are realizing the need to expand the role of nursing which include changes in public and institutional policies at all levels of engagement. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report entitled The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health which emphasized “nurses have key roles to play as team members and leaders for a reformed and better-integrated, patient-centered health care system.” As a result of this article, national organizations collaborated and formed the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC) which aimed to place 10,000 nurses on health governance boards by 2020. As of the beginning of 2022, that goal has exceeded its expectation and now has 10,353 board seats filled with nurses. Empowering nurses with leadership positions in governance and policy development is a relatively new concept. Consequently, it is essential that relevant stakeholders commit to action and invest in nursing in order to secure global health for all sectors of society.


Join us on International Nurses Day to advocate for further investment in nursing education and nurses in leadership!


For more information on International Nurses Day and ways to support nurses, please visit International Council of Nurses website