Nurses: A force for change

The following has been summarised from the International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) International Nurses Day 2016 Kit

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.


Each year the IND provides a comprehensive examination of how nurses can contribute to the annual focus (the theme).

This year, the theme is ‘A force for change: improving health systems’ resilience’.

So what does that even mean?

Firstly, a word from the heads of the ICN:

You may wonder how you as a nurse can help to strengthen health systems around the world. As a member of the single largest group of health professionals, with a presence in all settings, nurses can make an enormous impact on the resilience of health systems. Every decision that you make in your practice can make a significant difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire system.
– Judith Shamian (ICN President) and Frances Hughes (Chief Executive Officer)

Secondly, a re-cap of what resilience actually means:

“Resilience: the capacity to recover from difficulties” – Oxford English Dictionaries

So how does ‘resilience’ relate to the health sector?

“The resilience of a health system is its capacity to respond, adapt, and strengthen when exposed to a shock, such as a disease outbreak, natural disaster, or conflict.”
– Campbell et al (2014)

The ICN are an international organisation, so we’re talking public health on a global scale.

There are currently 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations (UN) Member States (including Australia!) are trying to achieve:

These global goals will transform our world:


Read more about the goals

Nurses need to lead by example

In the ICN’s report, they state that:

Nurses and nursing are subject to growing pressures, including regular reviews and reorganisations, coping with changes to service delivery and models of care, financial pressures, expanding scopes of practice and enhanced expectations of what a nurse workforce should achieve (ICN 2015b, 2015c).

If we develop a better understanding of the relationship between personal resilience and our ability to
provide care, then by extension this helps us to extend our skills outwards to support improved personal
resilience in the wider population.

So what they’re saying is that we need to ensure good working environments for nurses, but also that nurses who demonstrate personal resilience will be beacons of hope or leaders for the general populace and their resilience.

So what can you personally do?

We’ve summarised what the ICN states you can do personally into a handy graphic:


We hope this summary inspires you to be a force for change.

Read more about the International Council of Nurses here

Happy International Nurses Day 2016!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: