This week, we celebration National Nurses’ Week! Each day, we will publish a short blog related to this year’s ICN theme of nursing and the SDGs.
Today, we asked for responses to this prompt: “Get to the table and be a player, or someone who doesn’t understand nursing will do that for you.” How can nurses use their voices to help advance sustainable health and development?
Linda Jacobsen, our Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, weighs in on today’s question:
“Nurses must see policy as something they can shape rather than something that happens to them,” according to the landmark Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This is especially relevant in limited resource settings, where the majority of providers are nurses and midwives. Our ability to improve outcomes in patient care and community health is strengthened by being at the table, and in many instances, initiating the conversations across disciplines. The challenge is often to see ourselves as shaping policy and to develop the skills needed to do this effectively.
In practical terms, when we see something that needs to change, we must speak up and act as change agents. For example, at some of the GHSP sites, there are student association groups who have taken the lead in developing specific skills, such as Helping Babies Breathe. Nursing and medical students at 3 universities in Tanzania have organized and conducted training for students, faculty and clinical staff in this life-saving skill. Many of the students have now used this skill set during their clinical rotations.
Getting to the table is the crucial first step, and from there we can make meaningful contributions using our expertise in patient care and health promotion. Nurses are key players in developing teams for patient care. As students, they can advocate and gain the skills needed to help save lives. Sometimes it means creating the table and inviting others, but regardless, nurses must see themselves as key players at the table.