Conversation with Howard Catton, the CEO of the International Council of Nurses. Talking about nursing in the world and answering the questions from the latest Nursing issues and need.
Nursing as a profession is of paramount importance not just for the sustainability of the mainstream healthcare system but also from a societal standpoint and the wellbeing of the community at large. Howard Catton, the CEO at the International Council of Nurses (ICN), has shared his valuable insights regarding the profession at large and how it requires investments for future growth and sustainability alike. He stated that more than 50% of healthcare workers across the world are nurses and the care that they provide truly change lives. He stated that there is a pressing shortage of 6 million nurses globally and this was identified in the reports that were published sometime back. He also highlighted that this report was produced prior to the coronavirus pandemic and hence this figure does not account for the impact of COVID-19 on the nursing workforce worldwide.
In several countries, there is an ageing nursing population which is due to retire over the next few years. The true scale of the nursing shortage may surpass 10 million workers over the next few years which is a staggering figure when you take 27-28 million as the current nursing workforce throughout the world. Reports have highlighted that countries have to massively invest in nursing education for growing the nursing workforce globally. He talked of the importance of this since nurses are paramount and central towards dealing with all the major health problems faced by countries in all corners of the world. They cover almost everything ranging from infectious and non-infectious diseases to the ageing population and their care requirements and also public health, prevention and so on.
Catton was also categorical about the importance of properly retaining the existing staff and nursing workforce that the world possesses. He stated that it would represent a hopeless scenario if there were investments made for educating nurses and growing the workforce while continuing to lose the existing workforce on account of overwork, pressure, lack of respect, poor pay and failure to offer suitable career growth/progression opportunities. While investing in education for growing the workforce, there is a critical need to do as much for retaining the existing personnel as well.
Catton highlighted how powerful evidence demonstrates that skills and the right numbers of nurses are directly linked to improved patient outcomes and conversely, the risks go up for inadequate or poor care, the dissatisfaction of patients and so on. The community should be striving to frame arguments for nursing investments as revolving around the safety of people everywhere. It is vital to ensure that the right number of nurses are in the right place at the right time instead of being disproportionately scattered in hospitals without having a presence in community facilities, non-hospital settings and general practice establishments. Nurse managers and district community public health nurses have vital roles to play in mentoring junior nurses and for teaching/developing future generations.
He also talked of how he spent his honeymoon in India and how it will always have a special place in his heart while stating that it would be a great initiative taken by a Bollywood movie to depict the realities of the nursing profession, stripping away some of the regular stereotypes. He added that advanced nursing practices are already becoming game-changers and they need to be rolled out in several countries likewise.