Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge Aims to Develop Nurse Leaders for the Future


The 2020 Nightingale Challenge calls on employers across the world to invest in developing leadership skills in young nurses. The challenge is an initiative of Nursing Now, the campaign which aims at improving health globally by raising the status and profile of nursing. It was launched on June 27 during the International Council of Nurses (ICN) congress in Singapore.

The Nightingale Challenge will run during 2020 – the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It challenges every health employer around the world to provide leadership and development training to a group of their nurses aged 35 or younger. The goal of the challenge is for at least 1,000 employers to provide this personal development training, which is not purely clinical, to at least 20,000 nurses.

Significance of the Nightingale Challenge

Nurses are vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Health Coverage. They need to play a far bigger role within the multidisciplinary teams which influence policy aimed at improving health and health care.

Lord Nigel Crisp announcing the launch of the Nightingale Challenge at the ICN Congress 2019. Image via:
Lord Nigel Crisp announcing the launch of the Nightingale Challenge at the ICN Congress 2019. Image via:

Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of the Nursing Now campaign explained that by participating in the Nightingale Challenge organizations would become part of a great global movement to develop nursing and midwifery.

ICN’s President, Anette Kennedy, emphasized that nurses should be enabled to work to their full potential as leaders, innovators, and advocates within the multi-disciplinary team. “We hear, time and again, that nurses are being held back as leaders,” she said. “We need to seize the opportunity that 2020 gives us to shape a different future for our profession by investing in the next generation.”

We need to seize the opportunity that 2020 gives us to shape a different future for our profession by investing in the next generation

Dalia Srouji, a registered nurse working in neonatal intensive care at a specialty hospital, fully supported the Nightingale Challenge. “The more that nurses take leadership roles, the more that we can change this misconception surrounding our profession,” she said. “And I’m willing to start this change.”

How the Nightingale Challenge will work

Organizations employing nurses are encouraged to join the Nightingale Challenge for 2020 on the Nursing Now website. Participating in the Nightingale Challenge will give the participating organization an opportunity to:

  1. Enhance your organization’s reputation as a good employer and investor in the careers of young nurses and midwives – during a year in which this issue will be in the spotlight
  2. Improve recruitment and retention, especially of ‘rising stars’, by being seen as a supporter of nurse and midwives as leaders
  3. Development of your own workforce’s capability
  4. Access regional and global content which would normally not be available externally – including Nightingale Challenge webinars from high profile nurse leaders and experts in leadership and management development.
  5. Network and collaborate with other institutions in your country and abroad that are part of the Nightingale Challenge, to share ideas and learning.

Employers differ in terms of their needs and resources, so each is free to plan their own program to develop nurses aged 35 or younger. The programs can include formal training, mentoring, shadowing or learning from other groups. The only condition is that the programs must include opportunities for personal and leadership development that are not purely clinical.


Organizations will share their plans with Nursing Now at the beginning of 2020 and at the end of the year, report back on what they experienced and achieved.

During the course of the year, Nursing Now will provide coordination, guidance, and support in various forms. Organizations and the nurses themselves will have the opportunity to connect with other participants so that they can learn from each other. Nursing Now will also provide additional content, such as webinars presented by global nurse leaders.

Nurses can change the world

The spotlight placed on the profession by the 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife can bring a shift in how governments, and the world at large, view the contributions made by nurses and midwives.

“My message to employers is a simple one. Invest in the leadership potential of the next generation of nurses and midwives and they will change the world,” emphasized Elizabeth Iro, Chief Nursing Officer of the World Health Organization.

Accept the Nightingale Challenge here. You can also watch the inspirational promotional video for the Nightingale Challenge below:

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.

2 thoughts on “Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge Aims to Develop Nurse Leaders for the Future”

  1. as nurse in africa we are left out on somany international issues in nursing linking to other nursing organisation can help us improve our status in nursing and motivate us in our career that to the organisers for this initiative.


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