International Perspectives

Judith Shamian elected as new ICN President

Judith Shamian, an outstanding nursing leader in Canada and internationally, has been elected as the 27th President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). She assumed her role of representing nursing worldwide, advancing the profession and influencing health policy during the 25th ICN Quadrennial Congress held in May in Melbourne, Australia.

The Council of National Representatives (CNR), the governing body of ICN and its 135 member national nurses associations (NNAs), elected Dr Shamian to a four-year term.

Her achievements span all domains of nursing practice: academia, administration, policy and clinical settings. Dr Shamian is recognised as an outspoken advocate on health and nursing issues both in Canada and internationally.

‘Nurses hold the key to many potential solutions. ICN has an important role to play in extending the reach of the nursing profession in setting policy agendas at the national and international level’, stated Dr Shamian. ‘I consider it a fundamental right for populations to have access to the conditions and resources necessary for their health and well-being. As such, our ultimate goal as nurses should be to maximise our contributions to achieve optimal health for the greatest number of people’.


(Above) Judith Shamian (left), newly installed ICN President and Rosemary Bryant outgoing ICN President. (Bottom) The delegation from Korea arrives at the opening ceremony.

In Canada, Dr Shamian has held numerous leading national positions including President of the Canadian Nurses Association; Executive Director of Health Canada; and President of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. She has spearheaded a number of initiatives aimed at improving quality and access to health services. Her strong focus on the social determinants of health has resulted in several honours and awards. Her academic work surrounding public policy models and knowledge transfer has proven highly effective in translating nursing research and advocacy efforts into concrete policy action.

Dr Shamian provided nursing expertise to the World Health Organization (WHO) through collaboration with WHO's chief nursing scientists. In addition, she served on the global advisory committee of nursing, which was formed to advise the WHO Director General, and established and headed a WHO collaborating centre.

Since its founding in 1899, ICN has had a tradition that each President chooses a watchword as a theme for her presidency. Dr Shamian chose the word Impact to provide a focus for her term. She follows Rosemary Bryant who served as ICN President from 2009–2013.

Global nursing convenes in Melbourne to consider health care equity, access

Four thousand nurses and other healthcare professionals from 120 countries and every region of the world participated in the 25th Quadrennial Congress of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Focused on the theme of Equity and Access to Health Care, the Congress took place from 18–23 May 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.

Organised with the support of the Australian College of Nursing, the Congress provided a platform for discussing nursing's key role in improving equity and access to health care worldwide, sharing knowledge, and setting global health care priorities. Congress participants benefited from a four-day scientific programme including 19 main sessions with more than 50 international speakers, four plenary sessions and five workshops. The scientific programme offered more than 550 abstract presentations and 590 posters.

In his keynote address, Michel Kazatchkine MD, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, discussed the inequitable burden of infectious disease. Ninety percent of the burden of infectious disease is concentrated in developing countries, whereas those countries account for only 20% of the world's wealth and 12% of global expenditure on health. AIDS, TB and malaria are the major infectious diseases, accounting for the deaths of four million people a year.

Other plenary speakers included:

  • Leslie Mancuso, PhD, RN, President and CEO of Jhpiego, addressed the issue of women's access to and role in health care. She pointed out that when a mother dies, her children are more likely to die within two years of her death. However, when a mother survives, her children will survive and her family will remain intact, leading to stronger communities, more secure countries and a better world.
  • Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, PhD, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, discussed nurses' role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ‘If we are to make progress toward achieving the MDGs, we need every hand on deck’, she stated, ‘and those whose profession is health care, such as nurses and midwives, have to take centre stage. The role of nursing is critical. The question is whether we have enough nurses to tackle the huge health problems and inequalities in access to healthcare. For good health, we must eliminate hunger, eradicate poverty, improve sanitation and water, and clean the environment. Above all we need equity and access to healthcare.
  • Professor Joseph Proietto, Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Australia, addressed the question of whether obesity is a social or personal responsibility. Using examples from different countries, he demonstrated that public campaigns focused on encouraging healthy eating habits and physical activity have largely failed. Political, social, economic, cultural and biological impediments exist to stemming the global obesity epidemic.

Many of the presentations given at Congress are available at

During the Congress opening ceremony, three prestigious ICN awards were presented:

  • Kirsten Stallknecht, former ICN President, received the Christiane Reimann Prize, nursing's most prestigious international award. Stallknecht is a formidable force in nursing in her native Denmark, throughout Europe and internationally. She has dedicated more than 50 years to improving working conditions for nurses, particularly those affected by war, financial difficulties and catastrophes, and those in countries with fewer resources. ICN awards the prize every four years in recognition of outstanding vision, leadership and commitment to the advancement of nursing knowledge.
  • Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, received the 2013 Health and Human Rights Award. She previously served as the first female President of Ireland and as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • Pfizer was given the 2013 ICN Partners in Development Award in recognition of its outstanding leadership and investment in nursing and health care capacity building, benefiting the health of populations. (See related article on page 287.)

Anne Marie Rafferty, Dean of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King's College London, presented the Virginia Henderson Memorial Lecture. She discussed the ways in which the work of Virginia Henderson, an American nurse who made an extraordinary contribution to nursing and health, remains relevant for nurses today. Listeners acquired an improved understanding of both the contribution nurses make to equity and access to health care, and how they can use Henderson's approach to achieve an even greater impact.

Matsitsela Mhlanga, former President of the Swaziland Nurses Association, spoke at the fundraising luncheon for the Florence Nightingale International Foundation (FNIF). The luncheon raises funds for the Girl Child Education Fund (GCEF), established to support the education of girls in sub-Saharan Africa. More than AUD 20 000 was pledged over and above the amount provided by Pfizer, the official luncheon sponsor. The FNIF supports and complements the work and objectives of ICN, including the advancement of nursing education, research and services for the public good. More information about FNIF and GCEF is available at


Four thousand nurses and other healthcare professionals from 120 countries and every region of the world participated in the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia. (Left) David Benton, ICN Chief Executive Officer, addresses participants. (Right) Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, PhD, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, discussed nurses’ role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


Twelve new members were elected to the ICN Board at the meeting of the Council of National Representatives, ICN's governing body, during the 25th ICN Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia. Three current Board members will serve another four-year term. Shown are: (front row) Sheuan Lee (Taiwan); Marlen Calvo Solano (Costa Rica); Bagooaduth Kallooa, Second Vice-President (Mauritius); Judith Shamian, ICN President (Canada); Masako Kanai-Pak, First Vice-President (Japan); Annette Kennedy, Third Vice-President (Ireland); David C. Benton, ICN Chief Executive; and Jintana Yunibhand (Thailand).Back row: Elba Olivera Choque (Bolivia); Ioannis Leontiou (Cyprus); Eva Reyes Gómez (Mexico); Pierre Théraulaz (Switzerland); Elsa B. Friðfinnsdóttir (Iceland); Jürgen Osterbrink (Germany); Peter Požun (Slovenia); Marlene Smadu (Canada); and Paul Pace (Malta).

Also in Melbourne, ICN launched the 2013 ICNP®, a nursing terminology that supports standardized nursing documentation worldwide. A stable robust terminology and strong maintenance programme enables ICN to release an ICNP update every two years in a format that is easy to implement and use. ICNP is available at:

A commercial and professional exhibition, running concurrently with Congress, allowed universities, nursing organisations, publishers and pharmaceutical companies to showcase their products and services, and to present the most recent health care information.

Additional information about the Congress can be found at

ICN expands its global reach

Two new countries, China and Palestine, have joined the International Council of Nurses (ICN), becoming members of its federation of 135 national nurses associations (NNAs). The Chinese Nursing Association (CNA) officially became an ICN member in April 2013. The Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association was admitted by a unanimous vote of the assembled delegates at a meeting of the Council of National Representatives (CNR), the governing body of ICN, on 16 May 2013.

‘I am delighted to welcome the CNA and the Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association to the ICN family’, said Rosemary Bryant, ICN President. ‘For more than 100 years, ICN has provided nurses with a worldwide voice. Our new members increase our global reach and add to the richness and diversity of our membership’.

Representatives of the new members travelled to Melbourne, Australia to attend the CNR meeting and the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress, which followed.

‘The CNA is very proud to join the ICN family’, stated Li Xiuhua, President of the CNA. ‘We invite all ICN members to visit us in China’.

‘This is a very emotional moment’, said Sulaiman Turkman, President of the Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association, speaking at the CNR meeting. ‘We are pleased to be a member of ICN after working for so many years towards that aim. I would like to thank the President and Board of ICN, and David Benton, ICN Chief Executive Officer, as well as all of the nursing associations who supported our membership. We will return home and tell our nurses about this great Congress in Melbourne’.

Representing the more than 16 million nurses worldwide, ICN is the world's first and widest reaching international organisation for health professionals. Operated by nurses and leading nurses internationally, ICN works to ensure quality nursing care for all, to influence health policy, and to advance the profession. Further information and a list of NNAs who are members of ICN is available at


The delegation from Palestine arrives at the opening ceremony of the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia. The Chinese Nursing Association and the Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association are the newest members of ICN's federation of 135 national nurses associations. Representatives of both countries participated in the Congress.

Senior nurse leaders enhance leadership skills at 2013 global institute

Twenty-eight senior nurse leaders from 25 countries, representing all regions of the world, will participate in the 2013 Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLI). The 6-day advanced leadership programme will take place from the 7–13 September in Geneva, Switzerland.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) established the GNLI in 2009 to provide a leadership programme for nurses in senior and executive level positions. Facilitated by an expert and international faculty, the GNLI employs an action-learning approach within a collaborative and stimulating learning culture. Participants review and enhance their leadership skills and behaviours related to national and global health priorities. The theme for the 2013 GNLI is Redesigning Health Systems in the Context of Global Health Issues.

ICN received 107 applications from nurse leaders in developed and developing countries. The GNLI Advisory Committee selected participants from Antigua, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Poland, Seychelles, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The group is composed of 5 males and 23 females. Participants hold a variety of senior positions including chief nursing officers; presidents and officers of national nursing organisations; directors of nursing, deans and associate professors; and representatives from regulatory bodies and speciality service areas. Those selected have, on average, 26 years of professional experience.

Financial support from the Burdett Trust for Nursing and Pfizer Inc. allowed ICN to increase the number of bursaries this year from 10 to 17 participants.

Dr Stephanie Ferguson directs the GNLI. She is also the Director of the ICN Leadership for Change™ programme and an ICN Consultant for Nursing and Health Policy.

ICN has been a pioneer in leadership, management and negotiation skill development for nurses for more than 20 years through the highly successful Leadership for Change™ and Leadership in Negotiation programmes. The GNLI represents the third component of ICN's leadership development strategy.

Additional information about the GNLI is available at

ICN recognizes Pfizer for its commitment to strengthening nursing

The 2013 recipient of the ICN Partners in Development Award is Pfizer, the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) recognized Pfizer for outstanding leadership and investment in nursing and health care capacity building, thereby bringing benefit to the health of populations.

Masako Kanai-Pak, ICN First Vice-President, presented the award during the opening ceremony at the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia in May. ‘We are pleased to recognize Pfizer for their sustained commitment to strengthening and supporting nursing in delivering quality care’, she stated. ‘Pfizer and ICN have collaborated on numerous initiatives over many years, and we are proud to count Pfizer as a generous, enthusiastic and reliable partner, and friend to nursing’.

Paula DeCola RN, MSc, a member of Pfizer External Medical Affairs, accepted the award on behalf of Pfizer. ‘Pfizer is extremely proud to receive this award which recognizes the power of partnership’, she said. ‘As part of our effort to improve healthcare systems, ICN has been an inspirational collaborator in our pursuit of advancing nurses and the nursing profession’.


Paula DeCola RN, MSc accepted the 2013 ICN Partners in Development Award, presented during the opening ceremony of the 25th Quadrennial Congress, on behalf of Pfizer. ICN recognized Pfizer for improving the health of populations through its outstanding leadership and investment in nursing and health care capacity building.


In Melbourne, Rosemary Bryant (left), ICN President, presented the 2013 Christiane Reimann Prize to Grete Christensen, President of the Danish Nurses' Organization (DNO), who accepted on behalf of Kirsten Stallknecht. The prize recognizes Stallknecht's efforts to improve working conditions for nurses, particularly those affected by war, financial difficulties and catastrophes, and those in countries with fewer resources. She is a former President of ICN and the DNO.

Pfizer and ICN have worked in partnership on numerous projects over many years, including:

  • Two global nursing surveys were the result of collaboration between ICN and Pfizer. In 2009 more than 2000 nurses completed a survey on Nurses in the Workplace: Expectations and Needs. In 2011 a survey titled Non-Communicable Disease Global Crisis: Potential to Lead in Prevention? revealed that nurses want to spend more time addressing prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) but are hindered by workload, environment and time constraints.
  • Pfizer's International External Medical Affairs Group was the founding sponsor of the ICN Global Nursing Leadership Institute. The Institute offers an advanced leadership programme for nurses and/or midwives at senior level and executive positions in developed and developing countries across the world. Since 2009 Pfizer has provided 35 bursaries to support participants from lower income countries.
  • A joint ICN/Pfizer project, called Growing Your Health: The Wellness Tree, is an effort to respond to the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases. It assists nurses working within the public health sector to focus on their own health and wellness, as well as to support those in the community who are at risk of developing or have been diagnosed with NCDs.
  • Pfizer has worked with the World Health Professions Alliance, of which ICN is a member, on the Be Aware, Take Action toolkit to combat counterfeit medicines.
  • A long-time supporter of the ICN/FNIF Girl Child Education Fund (GCEF), Pfizer sponsors the FNIF Luncheon and provides financial support for the annual GCEF Coordinators' workshops. The GCEF supports the primary and secondary schooling of girls whose nurse parent or parents have died.

ICN gives the Partners in Development Award every two years to a foundation, corporation, non-governmental organisation or other group. ICN presented the inaugural award in 2007 to Merck & Co., Inc. In 2009 Elsevier Science, the leading publisher of scientific reference textbooks, was selected. Both companies made generous, sustained and indispensable contributions to the ICN Mobile Library project, which provides nursing knowledge to remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2011 recipient was the global medical technology company BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company). ICN recognized BD for its long-term moral, financial and technical support of the innovative ICN Wellness Centres for Health Care Workers®.

Pfizer is committed to working with stakeholders to improve health care. In recognition of the important role of nurses, Pfizer has established a platform to engage nurses, and commissioned global research on nurse perceptions to identify nurses' key concerns and areas in which the company might support nurses and, by doing so, strengthen health care systems globally.

Nursing leaders will network via new global colloquium

Alumni of the ICN Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLI) now have the opportunity to easily network and exchange information, thanks to the creation of the GNLI Colloquium.

‘We launched the GNLI in 2009 to develop executive level nurse leaders who have a deeper understanding of global health care challenges’, stated David C. Benton, ICN Chief Executive Officer, ‘and are better equipped to build strategic national and global alliances across professions and sectors. Most of our graduates have taken on higher leadership roles, nationally and globally. The new Colloquium will give GNLI alumni an opportunity to network and identify on-going learning needs. It also gives ICN the opportunity to capture outcomes and best practice exemplars in global health’.

The GNLI is an advanced leadership programme for nurses and/or midwives at senior level and executive positions in developed and developing countries across the world. The programme, drawing on the expertise of international faculty, allows participants to review and enhance their national and global leadership knowledge and skills within a collaborative and stimulating learning culture. The five-day advanced leadership programme takes place each September in Geneva, Switzerland.

Alumni from the GNLI programmes in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 were present for the launch of the Colloquium at the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress held in May in Melbourne, Australia.

‘Burdett Trust for Nursing is proud to support the International Council of Nurses and the Global Nursing Leadership Institute’, said Alan Gibbs, Chairman of the Burdett Trust for Nursing. ‘Funding from the Burdett Trust has ensured that nurses from low-income countries could take part in this important programme through bursaries. We believe that the diversity of participants is essential to the programme's success as it contributes a greater understanding of global health care issues and a richer learning environment’.

Pfizer, the founding sponsor, also provides support for the GNLI.

ICN has been a pioneer in leadership, management and negotiation skill development for nurses for more than 20 years through the highly successful Leadership for Change™ and Leadership in Negotiation programmes. The GNLI represents the third component of ICN's leadership development strategy. Dr Stephanie Ferguson, Director of the ICN Leadership for Change™ programme, facilitates the GNLI.

The Burdett Trust for Nursing is an independent charitable Trust set up in 2002 in recognition of the foundation, philosophy and structure of the Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses, and named after its founder Sir Henry Burdett, KCB. The Trust makes charitable grants to support initiatives that are nurse-led and that empower nurses to make significant improvements to patient care.

Further information about the GNLI is available at

Nursing organisation makes generous donation to GCEF

To support the education of girls in sub-Saharan Africa, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (NCSBN), USA donated US$ 35 000 to the Girl Child Education Fund (GCEF).

Launched in 2006, the GCEF is an initiative of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and its sister organisation, the Florence Nightingale International Foundation (FNIF). Through the GCEF, nurses and their associations around the world, individually and collectively, support the primary and secondary schooling of girls under the age of 18 whose nurse parent or parents have died.

Orphaned girls are often the first to be denied schooling when their extended families cannot afford to educate them. Education contributes directly to female economic independence. The education of girls and women is known to reduce poverty, lower birth and infant mortality rates, improve health and nutrition, raise productivity, promote gender equity, and increase the likelihood that the next generation will, in turn, be educated.

‘ICN is sincerely grateful to NCSBN for its generous support of the Girl Child Education Fund’, said David C. Benton, ICN Chief Executive Officer. ‘Thanks to donations such as these we have enabled over 130 girls to complete high school, many of whom have gone on to tertiary education. By supporting these girls, the NCSBN is showing solidarity with their nursing colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, whose harsh working conditions may threaten the livelihood and future of their children. We know that educating girls leads to better health for themselves, their families and their communities, and we thank the NCSBN for their generous gift’.

For additional news about nursing and health policy and issues worldwide, please visit, the website of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The user-friendly website, an essential global resource for nurses, provides access to ICN and the rich array of nursing networks, knowledge, publications, programmes and projects it offers. The home page contains links to the Florence Nightingale International Foundation (FNIF), the International Centre for Human Resources in Nursing (ICHRN), the International Centre on Nurse Migration (ICNM) and the International Nursing Review.

For individuals and organizations wanting to donate funds to GCEF, a contribution of US$ 200 helps to cover the costs of uniforms, schoolbooks, and fees for the primary education of a girl child for one year, and US$ 600 for secondary education. Approximately US$ 5000 will secure the education of a girl throughout her primary and secondary schooling years. Contributions can be made on the following secure online site:

The GCEF project supports girls in Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia, and is managed locally by ICN's member national nurses associations in those countries. The FNIF supports and complements the work and objectives of ICN.

A not-for-profit council, NCSBN provides an organisation through which State boards of nursing act and counsel together on matters of common interest and concern affecting the public health, safety and welfare, including the development of licensing examinations in nursing. It made the donation in celebration of its 35 years of nursing regulatory success in the United States.

Additional information about the GCEF is available at and


Professor Sue Turale

ICN appoints new editor for its nursing research and policy journal

A new editor has been appointed for the International Nursing Review, the official journal of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Professor Sue Turale RN, DEd, FACN, FACMHN will take over from Jane Robinson, FRCN, MA, PhD who has served as editor since 2002.

‘I am delighted to work with ICN and the INR Editorial Board, reviewers and authors around the world’, stated Dr Turale, previously Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Nursing & Health Sciences. ‘INR is a prestigious and historic journal which plays an important global role in the dissemination of knowledge to improve nursing and midwifery practices, health, health care and health policy. I enjoy working across cultures and countries, sharing ideas, learning from others and developing scholarship. So I value this opportunity to build on the significant work of Dr Robinson and others to develop INR as an even more vital resource for the future’.

Dr Robinson, who has guided INR for the past 11 years, said: ‘I have enjoyed editing INR and working with authors in helping to disseminate so much valuable scholarship across the globe. It is time for me to move on, and I am delighted to hand over INR to the capable hands of Dr Turale. We share the same values in encouraging nurses from around the world to do research and publish, and the future looks bright for INR. I also thank ICN for this wonderful opportunity to work internationally, and to be a small part of ICN's incredibly important global mission’.

Dr Turale, who holds nurse registration in Australia, trained as a psychiatric nurse, general nurse and midwife. Currently she works as visiting professor in a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region and assists in capacity building of the profession and health care systems through education, research and developing scholarship.

After gaining her three training certificates, she received a Diploma of Applied Science (Advanced Psychiatric Nursing) and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Advanced Nursing) from Phillip Institute of Technology, Melbourne (now RMIT) and a Master of Nursing Studies from La Trobe University, Melbourne. In 1999 Dr Turale obtained a Doctor of Education from the University of Melbourne. She is a Fellow of both the Australian College of Nursing and the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

After many years working in clinical, management and education roles in psychiatric nursing, Dr Turale became a lecturer at the University of Ballarat, Australia where she later worked as Deputy Head and Director of International Programs, and Associate Professor and Head of the School of Nursing. From 2001–2003 she was the inaugural General Manager of the Helen Macpherson Smith Institute of Community Health, part of the Royal District Nursing Service in Melbourne. She then became Director of Nursing and later Strategic Planning Consultant at Medea Park Residential Care in St Helens, Tasmania.

In 2005, Dr Turale managed the National Indigenous Nursing and Midwifery Education Project for the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN), and then became Professor of International Nursing at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Yamaguchi University, Ube, Japan, a position she held for seven years.

Let's harness our power to transform health systems

Following are excerpts from the acceptance speech Judith Shamian delivered during the closing ceremony of the ICN 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia on 19 May 2013. Dr Shamian was elected as the 27th President (see related article on page 283).

I am dedicating my four years of Presidency to a very special woman named Tova. She was my roommate in nursing school and at the age of 18, we started a life-long friendship. Though Tova died of cancer five years ago she continues to live on. Decades ago, Tova immigrated to Australia and lived in Melbourne. She was a burn unit nurse; she was a palliative care nurse; and most of her career she was a mental health nurse. She wasn't the president of an organisation; she wasn't a director of a nursing service. She was a clinical nurse committed to caring for patients, families and communities in the most knowledgeable way possible.

Tova's genuine contribution, like that of millions of nurses around the world, is truly inspirational. Tova, and nurses all over the world, have worked against all odds to impact the lives of the people they touch. My commitment is to remember the impact nurses have every day on the lives of people.

For the legacy of Tova and in honour of all nurses past, present and future, I have chosen Impact as my watchword – the watchword that will guide my term as President. At ICN, we are here to serve, to make an impact, and to ensure that nurses can practice the best nursing possible – without risking their own life and safety, and without compromising their family life. With clear vision, purposeful collaboration and positive influence at global, national and local levels, ICN will have a measurable impact on removing barriers and enabling strong nursing.

We have gathered here in Melbourne, representing the nurses of many countries, with a wide range of contexts and experiences. Many countries are dealing with problems of poverty, economic crisis, lack of access to health care. People are living longer lives, but they are also living with chronic diseases, sometimes multiple illnesses at a time. There is a growing concern about mental health, ageing populations and many other global trends. Despite the amazing advances in health care, our world is facing monumental health, social and economic challenges that impact the well being of all. Every one of these challenges is an opportunity for us to work together to make a positive impact. None of these challenges are impossible to beat.


Judith Shamian

Since being elected, I have met with many of you – the nurse leaders from every region of the world. You have told me that some of your countries don't yet have nursing legislation; that human resource decisions are made without nursing's involvement; and that clinical care decisions are frequently taken without hearing nursing's voice and without using evidence based practice, and more. We can no longer accept this.

We have the evidence; we have the leadership; we have the drive and commitment to work together to make sure that global organisations like WHO, ILO, other UN agencies and NGOs know that the only way to impact global health is through nursing knowledge, voice, experience and participation both at the decision making tables and at the point of care where we touch and impact lives.

My call for action to each and every one of us is to make our way into decision-making tables at global, national and local levels. Whether within the UN system, in government, in the community or in care settings, we must work together, we must use our knowledge and our solutions; we must remove barriers and influence change in order to have the impact necessary to achieve better health and social outcomes. Remember every nurse is a leader … our health systems and our populations need us and our leadership.

Research tells us that nurses save lives; that nurses impact communities, families and individuals; and we know that nurses make an impact at all phases of one's life – from birth to death – and along the full continuum of care – from health promotion and disease prevention, and in primary, acute, chronic, long term, home and palliative care. I believe that a nation's prosperity is fundamentally enhanced by a strong nursing profession. It is simple: the wealth of our nations depends on the health of our populations, and the health of our populations depends on nursing.

How we will have an impact? Look around you at this amazing global nursing community. We have the education, expertise and the experience to keep people well, to heal and to save lives. We have the education and skills to support and guide people toward better health and a better life. We have the wisdom and care to prepare and guide our new nurses. We have the political wisdom and experience to propose policies and transform health care systems.

Our richness at ICN is that while we are all unique and varied in the languages we speak, the customs we have and in the contexts within which we work, we always remember that we are nurses of the world. We have a common goal that unites us – the health and wellness of the people and populations we serve. ICN is the umbrella under which we gather – as professionals, unions and regulatory bodies – and if we harness our power and work together, we will transform this world's health systems and have a truly profound impact on the health of our people. Collectively, we hold this potential!

In closing my commitment to you is that every day of the 1460 days of my term, I will remember Tova, and I will remember the millions of nurses and the global population that depends on our strength, voice and leadership. Please join me, each and every one of you, by making the same commitment to work tirelessly to bring about better health and better nursing.