Capacity building of the nursing profession in their specialties in turbulent times

Guest Article by Ber Oomen Executive Director, European Specialist Nurses Organisations (ESNO)

It does not need to be emphasised that it is difficult to be an ambitious nurse in times of crisis in health. Health is at the top of anyone’s agendas but somehow, it is also that all contribute in their own way. Some are loudly very present, and some are silent in the background, and even underground as their autonomy is not appreciated. There is also a growing trend of nurses becoming more assertive, but they also face difficulties, because ‘assertiveness’ is often negatively connotated and not seen as nurses with ‘high commitment’. 

The challenge is to find consistency in the fragmentation because this is also what drives most to align with each other. The European health environment is highly interested in the nursing workforce, and if the ESNO representatives were to meet all requests to contribute to the many programs and projects, this would, on the other hand, create gaps in the already thin layer of nurses at the clinical level. We see also policy and European program capacity problems.  

In all of this, there is a need to act less as competitors, not to think twice but act without doubt and learn firsthand, how to support. In the background, nurses work in clinics, but not without being active in innovation, education, training, and development. This is not because education is needed, but it is a necessary adaptation to rapid and ongoing changes. The change in the ageing population, the rapid growth of technology and the digital domain, but also the environment play a big role, as well as geopolitical tensions, and last but not least, that we live in a VUCA world (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity).  

There is also a need to convert the so called ‘health workforce crisis’. To ESNO, there is no ‘Nurse Shortage’ but an issue of ‘Nurse capacity’. We can never solve this as there is globally a shrinking of professionals en general. Beside the public health domain problem, there also need to be review on the privatisation of health systems (stakeholders benefits), a negative aspect driven by the EU single market. The pressure is put on ongoing increases of budgets in the public sector. Choices are too often based on a quick fix, rather than taking the long way and looking back to the basis, to see what is needed to curve the tidings and create mechanisms for stability in times of uncertainty. What the ESNO, their member organisations, organisation associates, affiliated, and the individual do is to continue their work and invest in capacity building.  

The ESNO wishes to see friendly European institutional mechanisms for 1) stability in capacity building, through 2) sustainability with facilitation in continuing professional development, 3) certification of achievements, and 4) recognition of diplomas and degrees in the European context. With this, we also provide a positive instrument to meet the challenges of professional mobility. Our call is to join the engagers and connecting by participating in ESNO congress in June in Milan and join us in the challenges. 

Disclaimer: the opinions – including possible policy recommendations – expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EPHA. The mere appearance of the articles on the EPHA website does not mean an endorsement by EPHA.

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