The Nightingale challenge: develop 20,000 young nurse and midwife leaders
South East Sydney is the first NSW health district to heed an international call for health employers to provide leadership and development training for young nurses and midwives.
When he announced the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-General of WHO said: “Nurses and midwives are the backbone of every health system: in 2020 we’re calling on all countries to invest in nurses and midwives as part of their commitment to health for all.”
Dr Ghebreyesus said strengthening nursing would have the additional benefits of promoting gender equity, contributing to economic development, and supporting other sustainable development goals.
WHO wants both governments and employers to invest more in the nursing and midwifery workforce.
The Nursing Now campaign, launched in collaboration with the WHO and International Council of Nurses, aims to improve health globally by raising the profile and status of nurses worldwide.
It intends to do this by influencing policymakers and supporting nurses themselves to lead, learn and build a global movement.
A key Nursing Now initiative is the Nightingale Challenge 2020, which calls on every health care employer to provide leadership and development training for 20 young nurses and midwives throughout 2020.
The aim is to have employers worldwide invest in at least 20,000 young nurses and midwives and build the next generation of nursing and midwifery leaders, practitioners and advocates in health.
Become part of a global movement
The South East Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) is taking up the Nightingale Challenge with a plan to develop more than 100 young nurses and midwife leaders, says Sally Peters, a nurse manager for leadership development.
“The International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife has really put a spotlight on emerging young leaders, and we want to give them opportunities that they might not have had to this point,” Sally said.
“We are offering really small one-day or two-day workshops, right up to a year-long effective and clinical leadership program. We are committing to putting through at least 100 young nurses and midwives, but it is likely that we will have more.
“Our focus is on providing opportunities to nurses and midwives under 35 to develop leadership skills.
“Our programs aim to help them understand and really explore their own values, and then, working with those values, identify the behaviours that sit behind those values and enable them to become effective leaders.”
The effective and clinical leadership program is run in partnership with the University of Wollongong and the Clinical Excellence Commission, and “participants receive 12 credit points towards a master’s or a graduate certificate in medical and health leadership,” Sally said.
“By joining any one of these programs, young nurses and midwives will become part of the Nightingale Challenge, which will connect them to a global movement of emerging nursing and midwife leaders.
“The big focus of the program is nurses and midwives under the age of 35, but we’d also like to engage older nurses and harness their skills and knowledge by providing them with opportunities to be mentors to the younger nurses.”
Nurses and midwives are by far the biggest part of the health workforce, spend the most time with patients, their families and consumers, and have insights into their perspectives, Sally said.
“Therefore, it is really important that they have a voice to speak up for the consumers of health services, advocate on behalf of patients, speak on policy matters and really inform the design and delivery of the services that we provide.”
Leading for the future
Coral Levett, the recent past president of the NSWNMA, and based with the SESLHD, said: “We were the first district in the NSW system to sign up, but since then there have been a few more districts coming on board.”
“It is very important to foster younger leaders coming through and not leave that to chance. It is about leading for the future.
“Nurses and midwives play a critical role in the health system,” Coral said.
“Health care has become more complex than ever, but it is often delivered with less budget, so nurses need to be on top of all the changes that are occurring. What we are trying to encourage is transformational leadership that is new and adaptive to the health-care environment.”
The SESLHD will list courses, programs and online modules on the district’s intranet.
“Anyone interested can self-select, and then there is an approval process that goes through their managers,” Sally said.
Throughout the year, events will be organised to support nurses taking up the challenge, such as forums, road shows and webinars. Nursing and midwifery leaders aged over 35 will be invited to share their experience and expertise with SESLHD emerging leaders of the future.
Find out more about Nursing Now: www.nursingnow.org