The year 2020 was designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife with events planned during that year to recognize the contributions nurses and midwives made in caring for patients and the communities they serve. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to care for gravely ill patients put celebrations on hold. It also demonstrated the challenging working conditions they face and the need to invest in the nursing workforce since nurses are integral to the future of health care. WHO extended this recognition through 2021.

Of note, are 2 recently released reports that offer recommendations and strategies to support a nursing workforce capable of addressing the health care needs of patients, families, and communities globally. “The State of the World’s Nursing 2020: Investing in Education, Jobs, and Leadership” is the first report by WHO, the International Council of Nurses (ICN), and Nursing Now. This report urges “governments and relevant stakeholders to invest in the massive acceleration of nursing education, create at least 6 million new nursing jobs by 2030, and strengthen nursing leadership”.1

The second report, “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity”, released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine focuses on the US nursing workforce. Key areas for strengthening the nursing profession include the nursing workforce, leadership, nursing education, nurse well-being, emergency preparedness and response, and the responsibilities of nursing with respect to structural and individual determinants of health. The goal is the achievement of health equity in the US built on strengthened nursing capacity and expertise.2

Both reports provide frameworks to address health inequities and the need for commitment and investment from health care systems, governments, policymakers, and insurers, to name a few, to transform the nursing profession so that as the largest segment of health care workforce worldwide health promotion and well-being are achieved. Working together we’ll be able to meet the challenges in the decade ahead.

  1. State of the World’s Nursing 2020: Investing in Education, Jobs, and Leadership. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020.
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2021. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25982.