The Urgent Call for Nursing Leadership Development

As the World Health Organization (WHO) and others shine the spotlight on the critical need for nursing leadership across the globe, it’s time for us, as nurses, to step up and take action. It’s time to invest in our own leadership development.

The WHO was clear in its Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery 2021-2025 (SDNM): we need more nurse leaders and midwives at every level. Resolution WHA74.15, adopted in May, spells out what we must do over the next five years to ensure an educated, professional, abundant, well-trained workforce. Why is this so important? Because, as the COVID-19 pandemic made abundantly clear, the world is woefully unprepared to respond to large-scale health emergencies. Unless we take steps to shore up our preparedness and response capacity now, we can expect an endless loop of socioeconomic disruption playing repeatedly as we grapple with the health challenges, disasters and epidemics that are sure to come.

Now is the time. The SDNM encouraged countries to leverage the momentum of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to bolster the nursing and midwifery workforce. If we do nothing, we risk a growing nursing global shortage that could reach more than 5.7 million by 2030. In addition, the UN Secretary General’s Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth recommends the creation of at least 40 million new jobs in the health and social sectors to reduce the projected shortfall of 18 million health workers. All these numbers will shift more due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

With the growing drumbeat for leadership development worldwide, we need a cohesive and strategic approach that puts the contributions of nurses and midwives at the forefront. I have had the privilege of developing and implementing two such initiatives to address this need:

  • The Harvard Global Nursing Leadership Program (HGNLP) is the first-of-its-kind public health-focused program, designed specifically to expand nurses’ roles in shaping global public health. As HGNLP’s Director, and a faculty member at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, I have been working since 2020 to build this two-tiered, competency-based education program, which includes a certificate and the future ability to apply for a Harvard MPH degree. We are currently taking applications for the first cohort of certificate candidates in Africa. Financial assistance is available. To apply, go to the Harvard Global Public Health for Nurse Leaders certificate program.
  • In addition, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Board of Directors and Chief Executive selected me to determine the Council’s leadership portfolio and build competency- based assessment programs and products. We’ve created the International Center for Regulatory Scholarship (ICRS), which offers online and blended courses for global nursing regulators to learn, network and collaborate. Participants attend the Advanced Leadership Institute and receive an ICRS Certificate.

I strongly encourage nurses and midwives around the world to take advantage of these leadership development opportunities. Both will help us meet the WHO SDNM’s policy priorities, which include education, job creation, leadership development, and service delivery. These priorities are especially important in the time of pandemics, global threats, climate change, social unrest, and other international crises.

Let your legacy be one that makes an impact on the world’s health challenges and helps create a healthy population and a healthy planet.


Let's get in touch.

Stephanie L. Ferguson Signature
Share via
Copy link