Nurses as Force For Change: Celebrating International Nurses Day 2016

Nurses as Force for Change

To mark the contributions of nurses in the society, International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated every 12th day of May around the world. This is in sync with Florence Nightingale’s birth date, which has demonstrated remarkable contributions as founder of modern nursing.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has been leading its celebration since 1965 primarily through the production of IND Kit, which contains public and education materials encouraged to be used by nurses around the world. This contains action-geared ideas which will guide and encourage nurses and national nurses’ associations (NNAs) to hand in full commitment to this year’s cause.

Nurses As Force For Change

This year’s theme is “Nurses: A Force for Change: Improving Health Systems’ Resilience.” Health authorities believe that an improved resilience of health systems is crucial in reaching Millenium Developmental Goals (MDGs). Currently, health systems are facing numerous challenges which threaten the realization of MDGs.

“Nurses: A force for change: Improving health systems’ resilience.”

In line with this, ICN call for nurses’ full participation, as a single largest group of professionals, to help in reviving and reforming health systems seeing as how policy advocacies have significantly made an impact on the health of the people. ICN stressed that this transformation was in dire need of nurses’ expertise and creativity.

ICN added that this also aims to elucidate the government and policy makers on matters involving health care and how an educated workforce is essential in targeting MDGs as well as present and future challenges and needs of the health sector.

Improving Health Systems’ Resilience

Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt appropriately to stress and adversity. Putting this context into this year’s theme, Campbell (2014) defined resilience as “the capacity of the health system to respond, adapt, and strengthen when exposed to a shock, such as a disease outbreak, natural disaster, or a conflict.”

“Public health is continuously being challenged by meeting health needs…”

Public health is continuously being challenged by meeting health needs like the rise in lifestyle-related chronic conditions, aging population, and higher expectations for better healthcare services. Health funding is still gasping for more support seeing as how the vulnerabilities of the health system were exposed from recent disease outbreaks caused by Ebola and Zika viruses, in which these infections were spread to other countries.

These caused people to ask questions about the training, efficiency, and responsiveness of the health care workforce. All of these issues only point to a single answer that still needs mending: the health systems. A healthy health system composed of excellent health services, highly-trained workforce, highly-efficient information system and medical technologies, as well as adequate financing and outstanding governance. It is required “to deliver quality health care to all people when they need it, where they need it, and at prices, they can afford.”

On the other hand, technological progress in health sector hopes to attract funding and the increased interrelatedness of nations due to globalization is an opportunity that is seized to involve all countries in this health issue.

Improving Resilience Among Nurses

Nurses have long been exposed to stressful working conditions and environments. The increasing demands of finances, new service delivery, and care models, and expanding the scope of responsibilities are just some of the load nurses have to carry on their bent backs. ICN stressed that all of us have the responsibility to be tactical in developing resilience strategies and this is particularly important for nurses who are the front liners in the care of populations and communities.


ICN focused on personal attributes, social environment, and the combination of these two in improving resilience among nurses. According to them, resilience is innate to an individual and is one substantial portion of a person’s personality. These include internal locus of control, perseverance, emotional management and awareness, optimism, sense of humor, and self-efficacy. On the other hand, social support as a form of an environmental factor is a powerful determinant of resiliency. Together, the interaction between these two dictates the extent of a person’s resilience.

How Nurses Can Help

There are a lot of ways nurses can help for this goal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) specified that nurses should be appropriately resourced on the use of well-functioning adopted technologies. This is particularly beneficial to communication especially to remote care facilities where expert advice is needed to be accessible.

Studies about traditional leadership models revealed that these models are no longer sustainable. As a response, ICN advocates for a shift in nurse leaders’ loyalty from their organization to its citizen and the wider population through collaboration and crossing boundaries (system leadership). This is particularly important in “building alliance and authentic partnership.”

This year’s theme highlights the role of nurses as change agents. It is encouraged that nurses work together to improve the health systems’ resilience and to reach MDG targets consequently. ICN stressed that it is nurses’ ethical and professional responsibility to provide quality health care services to all people, so it is important that nurses continue to strive for excellence. Of course, this is in collaboration with different sectors and the government.

With reformed health systems and nurses’ resilience, the health sector will be better equipped in responding to the populations’ health needs even in times of adversary.

For more information, check out the complete INC Kit.


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