Global Nursing in 2022

“To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can, in spite of all we go through, is to be a nurse.”

Rawsi Williams, JD, BSN, RN, PhD

There are more than 27 million nurses around the globe, each impacting patient health every day. Working collectively to address health crises like the burgeoning rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke can significantly reduce the risk of death and disability to individual patients as well as the global population. The Global Cardiovascular Nursing Leadership Forum (GCNLF) in-person meeting in October, with participants from 12 countries, included not only internationally-renowned speakers but also time for developing action planning at the local and regional levels.

Laura L. Hayman, PhD, MSN, FAAN, FAHA,  FPCNA kicked off the program highlighting GCNLF activities to date, including accomplishments of GCNLF members in advancing the field of cardiovascular nursing.

Strategies from WHO and WHF

Sidney C. Smith, Jr., MD, FAHA, FESC, FACP, MACC,  shared updated strategies from the World Heart Federation (WHF) and World Health Organization (WHO) on reducing the global burden of CVD. His messages were clear:  Nurses are the largest discipline managing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and the involvement of nurses goes beyond the clinical setting, particularly when helping patients with the non-linear practice of behavior change. Coaching patients in smoking cessation, healthy diet, and activity plans, along with medication adherence, is an ongoing process with multiple touch-points—and nurses have the strongest training in this area. Nurses are well-positioned to assist patients in disease prevention and management—and since CVD is an ever-increasing epidemic globally, nurses continue to be of exceptional importance and influence in reducing CVD risk on a global scale.

The WHO Global Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Action Plan is multi-faceted, with the following main topics:

  • Advancing and raising awareness
  • Disseminating knowledge and information
  • Encouraging innovation and identifying barriers
  • Advancing multi-sector action
  • Advocating for the mobilization of resources, such as the sharing of ideas, how to do things in a more cost-effective manner

The most recent WHF World Heart Summit in Geneva included the following takeaways for clinicians:

  • An implementation roadmap for 2030 goals was released
  • Addressing diabetes is of utmost importance—the tsunami of impacts is coming
  • Alcohol goals are set as a public health priority
  • Oral health has a strong connection to CVD—important for healthcare professionals, patients, and the public to recognize this, including that periodontal disease causes atherosclerosis
  • Food safety systems updated—what food is available for our community members?

The 2030 targets include the following:

  • Mortality: target 33.3%
  • 20% reduction in harmful use
  • Physical inactivity – a 15% reduction is insufficient
  • 40% reduction in salt intake
  • Hypertension reduction o f33%
  • Halt the rise in diabetes
  • Drug therapy and medicines for NCDs need to be made available

World Heart Day includes involvement by governmental agencies and has expanded to include the impacts of environmental factors such as air pollution

Finally, a description of the WHF activities was described. A new roadmap to digital health has been released, which looks at a framework for how to address barriers. WHF is also updating secondary prevention and cardiac rehabilitation focus areas.

In his conclusion, Dr. Smith identified the three top issues for global CVD health and prevention: hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. It is incumbent on each nurse to be mindful of the role of these diseases in CVD health, and help their patients to address these issues to improve their cardiovascular and overall health.

Leveraging Nursing to Advance Global Cardiovascular Health

Michelle Acorn, DNP, NP PHC/Adult, MN/ACNP, BScN/PHCNP, FCAN, GCNC described the impact made by the individual and collective actions and activities of the 27+ million nurses across the world. “Nurses are visible, viable, vocal, and visionaries.” Dr. Acorn also described the importance of promoting health—including mental health—in the nursing workforce, and the importance of the connections between recruitment, retention, and respect.

Dr. Acorn described the Strategic Pillars of the International Council of Nurses (ICN), which has the mission of representing nursing worldwide, advancing the nursing profession, promoting the well-being of nurses, and advocating for the health of all patients.

ICN’s strategic pillars include professional practice—regulation and socio-economic welfare. Diversity across all settings (primary care to long-term care) requires a systems approach. Many low-income countries do not have nurse practice acts, which can limit the scope of work of nurses in a variety of healthcare settings. Core competencies and training courses can assist not only these nurses, but others in the nursing workforce.

Dr. Acorn also discussed nurse advocacy efforts—both individual and collective. It is important to know what you want, and how you can impact change to assist patients. If you are a member of a national nursing association, such as the American Nursing Association, then you are also a member of ICN, and you can get involved with advocacy efforts at the association level as well.

ICN recently presented at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, identifying the following global priorities

  • Sustainable Development Goals (increased visible at the UN, as well as economic stewardship)
  • Universal Health Coverage
  • Public Health
  • Humanitarian Disasters
  • People-Centered Care
  • UN Commission on Human Resources for Health

Dr. Alcorn also discussed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) strategic directions for nursing 2021-2025:

  • Education
  • Job: meaningful, working to the full scope of training and licensure
  • Service delivery: effectiveness of scope of practice restrictions and regulations
  • Leadership: there is evidence of gender bias, lack of input by women leaders, and too few opportunities
  • There is a connection between healthier populations, health emergencies, and health coverage, and each component is important to address to ensure equitable access by patients.

ICN also has a 10-year plan that aligns with the WHO’s strategic directions. The ICN plan includes strengthening partnerships, addressing collective messaging, including a Global Nurse Consultant program, and more.

Discussion, Action Items, and Next Steps

The GCNLF meeting included ample time for participants to consider the global importance of their work, and what action items could be tackled within their local/regional areas. Look for more details soon at

PCNA, through its 10-year commitment to GCLNF and other activities, realizes the importance and integral role that nurses play in addressing the global burden of cardiovascular disease. The expertise, compassion, and patient-centered efforts of nurses worldwide will be essential in achieving WHO, WHF, and UN goals for global health. PCNA continues to work to strengthen collaborations with a wide range of partners to unify the vision and role of nursing and increase the nursing voice in this vital work.

Find Out More

If you are interested in the Global Cardiovascular Nursing Leadership Forum, PCNA’s international efforts, and sharing your expertise, please visit

Related Articles