Australian Nurse, Dr. Isabelle Skinner, Appointed as New CEO at ICN


Dr. Isabelle Skinner
Dr. Isabelle Skinner

The appointment of Dr. Isabelle Skinner, a nurse from Australia, as Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nurses was announced on June 4. Skinner is a highly qualified and experienced nurse with a special commitment to improving rural and remote health.

In this top nursing position, Skinner will be leading 20 million nurses belonging to the more than 130 national nurses’ organizations in membership with the ICN. “Most nurses work for health departments and so it is actually quite difficult for an individual nurse to have a strong voice on policy issues. So they need to be members of their national nursing organization,” explained Skinner. Through the ICN, these organizations work with the World Health Organization and the United Nations to address the issues that are important to nurses – thereby influencing policy at a global level.

Skinner, who will take up her position at the ICN on August 1, is currently a senior research fellow with James Cook University’s Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health. She holds a Master of Tropical Health and Medicine, a Ph.D., an MBA and a Graduate Diploma in Professional Communications (digital).

Joining the profession as a student when she was 17, Skinner worked as registered nurse and midwife, mainly in remote areas. Thereafter she gained experience in nursing education, research, and leadership. She has worked with health teams and students in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Zimbabwe, and China.


Skinner specialized in digital and telehealth to help improve access to health services, including specialist services, for vulnerable populations in remote and rural areas. Her contributions in this field include the designing of mHealth (mobile health) and eHealth (electronic health) services. She has operated her own research and consultancy business for the last four years and was a finalist for Business Woman of the Year for the Northern Territory of Australia.

“I look forward to working with the ICN Board and all of our National Nursing Organizations to advance the standing of nurses and nursing globally”

“I look forward to working with the ICN Board and all of our National Nursing Organizations to advance the standing of nurses and nursing globally,” commented Skinner on her appointment. “Nurses are the health systems’ biggest resource and are there in communities around the world preventing illness, monitoring, treating and caring for people across the lifespan. This is an exciting time for nurses to use our collective voice to lead in transforming our health systems and improving the health of our global community.”

Skinner was selected for the position from among a number of highly qualified nurses from around the world. She takes over the role of CEO from Interim CEO, Professor Thomas Kearns.


Frieda Paton is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in nursing education. Her passion for nursing education, nursing issues and advocacy for the profession were ignited while she worked as an education officer, and later editor, at a national nurses’ association. This passion, together with interest in health and wellness education since her student days, stayed with her throughout her further career as a nurse educator and occupational health nurse. Having reached retirement age, she continues to contribute to the profession as a full-time freelance writer. In the news and feature articles she writes for Nurseslabs, she hopes to inspire nursing students and nurses on the job to reflect on the trends and issues that affect their profession and communities - and play their part in advocacy wherever they find themselves.
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