International Council of Nurses Publishes Groundbreaking Book Detailing Its History and Global Impact

photography of opened book
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Montreal, Canada – The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has unveiled a comprehensive historical account of its organization in a newly published book titled “The Global Voice of Nursing: A History of the International Council of Nurses from 1899 to 2022.” Authored by Lindsey Williamson, ICN’s Senior Communications Advisor, the book traces the evolution of the organization from its humble beginnings at the end of the 19th century to its current status as the foremost advocate for nearly 30 million nurses worldwide.

From its early roots within the women’s movement of the late 19th century to navigating the challenges of the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the rapidly transforming healthcare landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the book provides a comprehensive overview of ICN’s enduring commitment to promoting global health and advancing the nursing profession.

Originally founded in 1899 with just four member national nursing associations, ICN has since grown into the largest professional organization for nurses globally, representing millions of nurses in over 130 countries. Throughout its history, ICN has achieved significant milestones in the nursing field, including the establishment of the first international nursing conference in 1901, the introduction of the annual International Nurses Day on May 12 to honor Florence Nightingale’s birth, the development of the ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses in 1953, and its longstanding partnership with the World Health Organization since its inception in 1948.

Moreover, ICN has spearheaded initiatives such as the Leadership for Change program in 1996 and the Global Nursing Leadership Institute in 2008, aimed at nurturing and enhancing nursing leadership worldwide. Additionally, the organization launched the ICN International Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nursing Network in 2000 to support the growth and recognition of advanced practice nursing roles.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ICN has been at the forefront of advocating for the protection and support of nurses. It has actively campaigned for prioritizing nurses in vaccination efforts and ensuring their inclusion in vaccine distribution plans.

Looking ahead, ICN remains steadfast in its commitment to improving global health and advocating for the nursing profession. By emphasizing the significance of investing in nursing jobs, education, leadership, and clinical practice, the organization aims to tackle the escalating global health challenges of our time.

ICN President Dr Pamela Cipriano praised the new ICN History, bringing the organisation’s history up to date, adding:

“ICN was founded 124 years ago today and it is fitting that this history is being launched on ICN’s Founder’s Day at the 29th ICN Congress in Montreal. As with all organisations, it is important that we know and understand our history so that we can learn from our predecessors and build on the rich legacy they have left us. Nurses everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to those amazing Victorian women who had the foresight to see how important unity was for the nursing profession, and the vision to make that unity a reality. ‘Together we are stronger and more able to influence the health care we provide to our patients and their families, and to the communities we all live in.

‘As we look to the future, ICN remains committed to advocating for the nursing profession, influencing global health policy, and promoting health worldwide, building on the legacy of the nurses who came before us, and looking to the future for those who have yet to discover what it is to be a nurse.”


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