Working in Global Health Nursing

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Doctor of Nursing Practice

Global perspectives impact how medical professionals approach patients and treatments.

Globalization – the integration of social, political, economic and cultural views across geographic borders – has affected nearly every aspect of life. In healthcare, global perspectives impact how medical professionals approach patients and treatments.

As information technology, international travel and greater connections shrink world views, DNP-educated nurses must be able to address global health issues. Disease epidemics, such as the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, Ebola in 2014, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, underscore the importance of global health nursing.

Registered nurses (RNs) with DNP educations work as nurse executives and are positioned to address changes to healthcare education, delivery, policy, and leadership to influence public health outcomes.

“When you realize that three-quarters of all employees in the (healthcare) system are nurses or on the nursing team, that their voice affects so many people, it’s important to have the (chief nursing executive) voice at the executive table,” said Maggie Hansen, R.N. and chief nursing executive (CNE) at the South Florida-based Memorial Healthcare System. “Our goal is to address every risk proactively, and nurses know where those risks are. They have a vantage point that health care leadership needs.”

As trained clinical experts, DNP-educated nurses are also positioned to bring global perspectives to healthcare organizations worldwide. At Duquesne University, RNs enrolled in the online DNP programs learn the importance of global health nursing and expanding U.S. nursing education and practice for global health engagement.

Addressing Globalization in Healthcare

Nurse leaders around the world must address rising healthcare concerns that have a far-reaching impact. In early 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified 10 healthcare issues that present a global threat:

1. Air pollution and climate change

Air pollution is the greatest environmental health risk worldwide, the primary cause of which is the burning of fossil fuels, the WHO said. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year from heat stress, malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea, the organization said.

2. Noncommunicable disease

Noncommunicable diseases cannot be directly transmitted from one person to another but still play a significant role in world health. Diabetes, cancer, and heart disease together are responsible for 70 percent of deaths worldwide.

3. Global influenza pandemic

The influenza virus is constantly evolving and mutating, which makes it highly communicable. Every year, up to 650,000 people die from seasonal influenza. WHO global health experts say that an influenza pandemic is inevitable.

4. Fragile and vulnerable settings

About 22% of the global population with famine, drought, conflict, and population displacement. In these settings, individuals have poor access to basic healthcare services.

5. Antimicrobial resistance

Drug resistance driven by the overuse of antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials increases the risk of acquiring and transmitting disease.

6. Ebola and other high-threat pathogens

Public health emergencies, such as Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and hemorrhagic fevers, quickly spread from close-knit rural communities to cities.

7. Poor primary healthcare

Comprehensive and affordable primary healthcare is essential to meeting patient needs, yet many countries have inadequate access to medically necessary care.

8. Vaccination hesitancy

The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate threatens to reverse progress made in combatting diseases that include measles, polio, and rubella. When people are not vaccinated, they run the risk of transmitting diseases to the sick, elderly, and frail.

9. Dengue

An estimated 40% of the world’s population is at risk for developing dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness that can be lethal. Countries that include Bangladesh and India have seen high rates of dengue, particularly in the rainy seasons. More recently, the disease has spread to countries that are less tropical, such as Nepal.


While significant advances have been made in HIV testing and treatment, about 37 million people worldwide live with the virus and are at risk for developing AIDS. Those most at risk – including sex workers and people in prisons – are often excluded from healthcare services, making them even more vulnerable to the virus.

The key to moving forward to address any of these concerns is educating and employing sound nursing teams. As leaders in healthcare, DNP-educated nurses are in positions to hire educators and executives who understand global health nursing and will be part of the process of change.

How DNP-Educated Nurses Help Global Health

One of the key components to addressing globalization in healthcare is having leaders who can implement changes. DNP-educated nurses have clinical expertise in healthcare, leadership, policy, and research translation. The degree prepares RNs at the most advanced level of practice to develop evidence-based strategies that can improve clinical practice. The result is optimized health outcomes, researchers said in “The Impact of the Role of Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurses on Healthcare and Leadership.”

In the research, Nancy Edwards, Ph.D., MSN, et al., said DNP program graduates have made a significant impact on nursing outcomes through research-based initiatives, including:

Clinical health

DNP-educated nurses have led changes and improvements in acute care, rural and underserved communities and prison systems DNP-led research in the field has included “Increasing Colorectal Cancer Screening Utilizing a Quality Improvement Approach in Nurse Managed Primary Care Clinic” and “Evaluating the Impact of an Evidence-Based Protocol for Managing Uncontrolled Hypertension in an Underserved Population.”

Health policy

RNs who are DNP educated have spearheaded healthcare policy improvements at the institutional, local, state, and federal levels. DNP-led research on the topic includes “Quality of Care and Policy Barriers to Providing Health Care at a Pediatric Nurse Managed Clinic” and “Emergency Preparedness: An After-Action Analysis of the 2009 Kentucky Ice Storm.”


DNP-educated RNs are also at the forefront of educating the next generation of RNs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Some of the leading DNP-led research includes “Preparing Future Health Professionals for an Aging Population” and “Minority Undergraduate Nursing Student Success.”

Other areas of DNP influence include work with corporations (DNPs work with companies to improve employee health and encourage a healthy work environment through evidence-based practices) and insurance companies (DNPs hold executive positions in the health insurance industry).

The critical step in assisting in to earn a DNP degree. At Duquesne University, the DNP curriculum includes coursework in transcultural care and global health perspectives to explore the impact of globalization on healthcare and diverse cultural needs.

About Duquesne University’s Online DNP Program

Duquesne University’s online DNP program prepares RNs to use evidence-based practices for advanced clinical care. Students learn about the global impact of nursing and the future of healthcare.

Duquesne University, a leader in nursing education, offers three DNP tracks:

  • Clinical Leadership DNP
  • Post-Bachelor’s Executive Nurse Leadership DNP
  • Post-Master’s Executive Nurse Leadership DNP

Duquesne University has been repeatedly recognized as a leader in nursing education, most recently as a “Best Online Graduate Nursing Program” by U.S. News & World Report.


H&HN, The Rapidly Evolving Role of Nurse Executives
WHO, Ten threats to global health in 2019
Medical Research Archives, The Impact of the Role of Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurses on Healthcare and Leadership