Nurses urged to seek positions of influence with policymakers

Nursing voices not being heard at the highest level, says International Council of Nurses president

Nurses deny themselves a say in policymaking by not forcing healthcare leaders and politicians to take notice of them.

Keynote speaker Mary Chiarella from the University of Sydney’s nursing school.  Photo credit: Barney Newman

International Council of Nurses president Judith Shamian made the assertion in her speech to close the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation (CNMF) conference in London yesterday. Around 300 people attended the two-day event at the Royal College of Physicians.

The theme of the weekend was leadership and how to encourage more nurses to demonstrate that quality by 2020, the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale's birth.

Dr Shamian said: ‘I don’t think we’ve ever had more PHD-qualified and educated nurses before. But when you look at the board room, the World Health Organisation and many other places, you are hard-pressed to find a nurse.

‘Everyone thinks they know about nurses but if you only take one message away with you from this conference it is that unless we are present in government and other places, we will not be able to do what we believe we can to contribute to patient care.’

She advised nurses to develop working relationships with people such as advisers to the chief executives of their organisations, and to express their views and explain their work through newspaper articles.

Keynote speaker Mary Chiarella, from the University of Sydney’s nursing school, used her address on Saturday to urge nurses to make ‘the extraordinary, ordinary’, saying that a feature of giving care is that ‘when we do it well, we are invisible’.

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