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International Council of Nurses appoints interim chief executive

Senior nurse who developed a national aptitude test for overseas nurses applying to work in Ireland will lead ICN following departure of former chief executive

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has appointed Thomas Kearns as its interim chief executive.


ICN interim chief executive Thomas Kearns.

The appointment of Professor Kearns, who is currently on sabbatical from his role as executive director of the faculty of nursing and midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, follows the departure of ICN chief Frances Hughes last month due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.

During his 37-year nursing career, Professor Kearns has collaborated with European nursing regulators and also held the role of acting chief education officer at the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

He holds a doctorate in regulation of continuing professional development (CPD) and professional competence, and is working with fellow academics on the development of a European Centre of Excellence for Nursing CPD.

Overseas nurse assessments

In 2015, he researched, developed and implemented a programme to regulate the registration of overseas nurses wishing to practice in Ireland. To date, 1,300 nurses have successfully completed the aptitude test and a further 300 have assessments scheduled up to the end of the year.

In partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, he has also developed the Network for Advanced Practitioners to offer support with literature searching, research, audit and CPD.

ICN president Annette Kennedy described Professor Kearns as ‘the right person to take the helm of ICN at this crucial time’, adding: ‘He has extensive experience in providing leadership and direction in the development and delivery of key strategic and operational aims and objectives.’

Professor Kearns will take up the role officially in October.


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