Global nursing is evolving, and nowhere is that more evident than in the NIS/CEE countries. The American International Health Alliance (AIHA) facilitated communications and partnerships between U.S. healthcare providers and their foreign counterparts, but more importantly, across country lines. Nurses, previously considered mid-level personnel, have benefited from these changes more than any other group by becoming part of an ongoing community of nurse leaders and scholars. Initial efforts by U.S. nurse partners focused on relationship building—relationships between U.S. and foreign hospitals and between U.S. and foreign nursing leaders. Colleagues worked diligently to build a base of knowledge related to clinical practice, a nursing curriculum, and nursing associations.

Early in 1992, nursing emerged as a key issue throughout the new independent states of the former Soviet Union (NIS) and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. Cognizant of the need to tackle nursing issues within the context of a partnership model, United States (US) nurse leaders developed Nursing Task Forces to meet the challenges of nurses at an institutional level and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and lessons learned. The Task Forces were the driving force behind the nursing agenda with a focus on three areas: education, practice, and leadership.

This initiative gave birth to the International Nursing Leadership Institute (INLI), a year-long program in which U.S. faculty used a series of leading management books to generate a comprehensive curriculum.

Core content for session one included:

  • Leadership competencies
  • Adult learning principles
  • Expectations
  • Group norms and dynamics
  • Project development
  • Computer skills
  • Teamwork
  • Publishing
  • Communicating
  • Evaluation methodologies

Content for session two addressed: 

  • SWOT analysis
  • Time/change/barrier management
  • Performance appraisals
  • Systems thinking
  • Quality
  • Meeting planning
  • Influencing policy development
  • Negotiation/conflict resolution

And, the third-semester content included: 

  • Ethics
  • Critical thinking
  • Customer service
  • Professional development
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Developing strategic partnerships

Students and faculty, in full costume, acted out the stories. For example, the parable Who Moved My Cheese (Johnson, 1998) encouraged students to have contingency plans and to expect change. A maze was created, and students moved through the maze to reach their destinations, facing multiple stumbling blocks along the way, including a shortage of cheese (supplies). The book The Oz Principle (Connors, Smith, & Hickman, 1998) told students that they could be or do whatever they wanted…if they wanted it badly enough! The author contended that like Dorothy and her companions in The Wizard of Oz, most people in the corporate world possess the power within themselves to get the results they need. Instead, they behave as though they were victims of circumstance. The authors demonstrated how anyone can move beyond making excuses to obtain the results they want, an important leadership tool. Faculty became the characters and led the students through the story, ending in Dorothy’s ability to return home as a result of the power within her. The book Goldilocks on Management (Mayer & Mayer, 1999) featured a series of revisionist fairy tales for serious managers. A message from the author’s story of Chicken Little reminded students that they could control rumors with timely, accurate, and effective communication. Costumes, props, and team- work enriched the course content.

As a result of this experience, a cadre of nursing professionals evolved. Graduates have reached the highest levels of leadership within their respective countries and are leading the way for nurses and nursing.