Stepping Up to The Nightingale Challenge

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At a time when public health and safety has never been more important, nurses are stepping forward to participate in the Nightingale Challenge – a global initiative that promotes nurse leadership development.

The challenge, which was initially organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), is aimed at addressing universal healthcare coverage, global inconsistencies in professional practice, recruitment and retention. The initiative, which coincides with the WHO’s proclamation of 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, also aims to put early career nurses and midwives at the forefront of leadership transformation.

“In order to become influential partners, nurses and midwives are needed to become the advocates of their own profession, by raising their profile and status worldwide, supporting themselves to lead, learn and build a global movement,” the International Council of Nurses said in Nursing Now 2020: the Nightingale Challenge. “This is important to allow them to gain leadership positions that have a central role in health policy development, influencing policy, encouraging health leaders to invest in nursing and introducing new models of care that maximize nurses’ contributions to achieving (universal health coverage).”

Indeed, clinical leadership development and education for nurses is paramount to success in the Nightingale Challenge. Registered nurses (RNs) who undertake online master’s in nursing programs can fulfill leadership development goals to create a healthier future.

Taking the Nightingale Challenge

The Nightingale Challenge, named in honor of the 200th birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, was introduced as part of the Nursing Now initiative. Nursing Now launched in 2018 as a three-year collaboration between more than 30 countries to raise the profile of the nursing profession.

The Nightingale Challenge calls for some of the largest nurse employers to provide leadership and development opportunities for 20 nurses each, with the goal of assisting 20,000 nurses worldwide. To date, more than 27,000 nurses and midwives have been involved. They are employed at more than 715 healthcare providers across more than 70 countries.

Each of the employers is tailoring leadership and development programs. The programs are a mix of formal classes, training workshops and job shadowing, to name a few. The only requirement for the programs is that they provide more than just clinical instruction. The programs must include personal development and leadership training and teaching.

“Regardless of geography, care and discipline, the Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to engage and invest in the future of the profession,” the International Council of Nurses said. “The challenge will allow nurses and midwives to become the best of their potential and to address the issues of providing (universal health coverage), promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth, placing them at the heart of tackling 21st-century health challenges.”

Challenges in Nursing

Throughout the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, WHO and other healthcare-focused organizations worldwide are looking at the challenges that nurses face, including:

Nurse staffing

In the coming decade, more than 500,000 nurses are set to retire, leaving gaps in knowledge and experience. The American Nurses Association (ANA) said the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new nurses by 2022.

“Over the past decade, the average age of employed RNs has increased by nearly two years, from 42.7 years in 2000 to 44.6 years in 2010. These factors, combined with an anticipated strengthening of the economy, will create a renewed critical shortage for nurses,” the ANA said.

Personal health

Studies show that nursing can be physically and emotionally draining, which can lead to burnout. Keith Carlson, RN, a writer for, said nurses should focus on self-care and wellness as a way to handle stress.

“You can allow your health to go downhill for so long, but once those stress-related illnesses begin to manifest, you’ll have a clear sign that you need to up your game and pay attention,” Carlson said in “Nursing Wellness: Not An Oxymoron.” “Nurses, if you’re not paying attention to your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being, there’s no time like the present to begin doing so; if you’re burnt out and in need of support, make it a new priority to actually ask for it.”

Nurse educator shortage

According to the American Association of Colleges in Nursing (AACN), nursing schools in the United States turned away more than 75,000 qualified applicants in 2018 caused by faculty staffing shortages and a lack of classroom space, among other reasons. The AACN said initiatives on the state level are reducing the shortages.

Why Get A Masters in Nursing?

For RNs, there has never been a better time to seek an advanced education. Through an online master’s in nursing, RNs can earn an MSN in nursing education and work to ease the nurse educator shortage.

The online MSN program at Duquesne University provides a comprehensive education to prepare RNs to work as educators at colleges, technical schools, hospitals and other educational facilities. The university’s MSN in Nursing Education and Faculty Role prepares graduates for the Certification for Nurse Educators (CNE) exam.

Duquesne University is a pioneer in nurse education, developing Pennsylvania’s first BSN program in 1937 and the nation’s first online nursing Ph.D. program in 1997.

Learn More About Duquesne University’s Master of Science in Nursing Program

Duquesne University’s online MSN program allows RNs to earn an advanced education in one of six tracks:

  • Forensic Nursing
  • Nurse Education and Faculty Roles
  • Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management

Students can further complement their track of study by adding a specialized concentration in Nurse Education, Forensic Nursing or Transcultural Nursing.

Duquesne University also offers four post-master’s certificates in advanced nursing:

  • Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management
  • Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Nursing Education and Faculty Role

For more information about the programs, contact Duquesne University today.


Nursing Now 2020: the Nightingale Challenge: International Council of Nurses

The Nightingale Challenge 2020: Nursing Now

How DAISY Can Help You Celebrate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife!: The DAISY Foundation

Workforce: ANA

Nursing Wellness: Not An Oxymoron:

Nursing Faculty Shortage: AACN