The Global Nursing Review Initiative: Policy Options and Solutions

The Global Nursing Review Initiative:
Policy Options and Solutions


Project Description

Press Releases


Related ICN Position Statements

Related ICN Fact Sheets


Project Description

The Global Nursing Review Initiative: Policy Options and Solutions was launched in March 2004 in response to the global nursing crisis. Led by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and its sister organisation the Florence Nightingale International Foundation, and supported by the Burdett Trust for Nursing, the project aims to clarify the extent of the global nursing shortage; provide an analysis of key nursing workforce issues globally; identify priorities for policy intervention; and develop recommendations to address issues.

Project Components

Reference Group

The reference group is a key component of the project and its members play an important advisory and consultative role.  The group members are listed below:

Jonathan Asbridge
Nursing and Midwifery Council – United Kingdom

Gilles Dussault
World Bank Institute

Marilyn Elegado Lorenzo
National Institutes of Health –- Philippines

Thembeka Gwagwa
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa

Silvina Malvárez
Pan American Health Organization

Ken Sagoe
Ghana Health Service

Ragnhild Seip
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

Judith Shamian
Victorian Order of Nurses
(Formerly of Health Canada)

Sissel Hodne Steen
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

Duangvadee Sungkhobol
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia

Piyasiri Wickramasekara
International Labour Office

Representatives of the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

The Global Shortage of Registered Nurses: An Overview of Issues and Actions

The overview represents the first output from ICN's programme of work on the global nursing workforce. The report highlights key trends, main challenges and provides a framework for policy interventions to address workforce challenges. The full report can be accessed here  .

[French and Spanish translations of the report available ]

Issue-based Papers

The Global Shortage of Registered Nurses: An Overview of Issues and Actions is complemented by a series of issue-based papers examining specific global and regional aspects of the nursing workforce in more detail. The papers are available in the Publication section of this page.

High-Level Consultation on the Global Nursing Workforce

Some fifty representatives of governments, employers, donors, trade unions, policy analysts, planners, researchers and professional nursing organisations, from all regions of the world met in Geneva, Switzerland 14-16 March 2005 at the invitation of the International Council of Nurses to identify priorities and actions to deal with the critical imbalance and shortage in the nursing workforce worldwide.

Participants called on global and national partners to take immediate action along the following lines:

Action at the global level

  • Increase resources to support the development of comprehensive human resource strategies;
  • Explore using global health funds to strengthen human resource delivery infrastructures, including education;
  • Form strategic alliances between governments, donors, agencies, educators, regulators, unions and associations;
  • Build capacity in the area of human resource planning and management;
  • Build national self-sufficiency to manage domestic issues of supply and demand;
  • Support international code for ethical recruitment; effective monitoring of international flows; regulation and independent monitoring of international recruitment agencies; and respect for international labour instruments; and
  • Improve access to high-quality technical assistance.

Action at the country level

  • Consider the range of nursing personnel required to meet national health needs;
  • Embrace new models of care, with an emphasis on primary care, and new technologies;
  • Address issues of skill mix and the delegation/devolution of some tasks to other workers; and
  • Improve workloads and working conditions.

International Summit on the Global Nursing Workforce

As follow-up to the March 2005 Consultation, ICN convened an International Summit on the Global Nursing Workforce, which was held on 24 May 2005 during ICN’s 23rd Quadrennial Congress in Taipei, Taiwan. Nurse leaders from research, management, practice and education joined representatives from health sector planning and human resources development to exchange ideas, opinions and solutions on priority workforce issues.

The Summit and findings from an on-site survey validate the five priority areas of intervention for ICN and nursing. The five areas are:

  • Macroeconomic and health sector funding policies;
  • Workforce policy and planning, including regulation;
  • Positive practice environments and organisational performance;
  • Recruitment and retention; addressing in country maldistribution, and out migration; and
  • Nursing leadership.


Press Releases *

Press Release 29 March 2006– Priorities to Address Global Nursing Shortages Announced

Press Release 3 March 2005– ICN Releases First Series of Issue Papers on the Global Shortage of Registered Nurses

Press Release 8 March 2004 – First Comprehensive Picture of the Global Nursing Workforce

Press Release 8 November 2004 – The inadequate supply of nurses is having a negative affect on care outcomes globally

*  Note: Documents above are in PDF format



Project Publications *

Project Communiqué N°3- July 2005
Project Communiqué N°2 – December 2004
Project Communiqué N° 1 – May/June 2004 [

The Global Nursing Shortage: Priority Areas for Intervention 

The Global Shortage of Registered Nurses: An Overview of Issues and Actions

Issue Paper 1

Regulation, roles and competency development

Issue Paper 2
Nursing Workforce Planning: Mapping the Policy Trail

Issue Paper 3
What Makes a Good Employer?

Issue Paper 4
Nurse Retention and Recruitment: Developing a Motivated Workforce

Issue Paper 5
International Migration of Nurses: Trends and Policy Implications

Issue Paper 6 
Overview of the Nursing Workforce in Latin America

Issue Paper 7

The Nursing Workforce in Sub-Saharan Africa

*  Note: Documents above are in PDF format

Other ICN Publications

Workload Measurement in Determining Staffing Levels

GATS and Mutual Recognition Agreements


Related ICN Position Statements

Socio Economic Welfare of Nurses *

Abuse and violence against nursing personne (2006)

Career development in nursing (2007)

Ethical nurse recruitment (2007)

Reducing the impact of HIV infection and AIDS on nursing and midwifery personnel (2008)

International trade agreements (2010)

Nurse rentention and migration (2007)

Nurses and shift work (2007)

Occupational health and safety for nurses (2006)

Part-time employment (2007)

Socio-economic welfare of nurses (2010)

*  Note: Documents above are in PDF format

Health Care Systems *

Health human resources development (2007)

Nurses and primary health care (2007)

Nursing and development (2007)

Nurses participation in health services decision-making and policy development (2008)

Patient safety (2002)

Promoting the value and cost-effectiveness of nursing (2001)

Publicly funded accessible health services (2001)

*  Note: Documents above are in PDF format


Related ICN Fact Sheets*

An Ageing Nursing Workforce

International Nurse Migration and Remittances

ICN on International Trade Agreements

Nursing Self Sufficiency

Trade Related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights

Health Human Resources Planning

Nurses and Overtime

Nurse: Patient Ratios

Positive Practice Environments

Positive Practice Environments: meeting the information needs of health professionals

*  Note: Documents above are in PDF format