Chief Nurse Blog: Nursing Matters July 2023

2 August 2023
Michelle Acorn, Chief Nurse

After the excitement of ICN Congress in the first week of July in Montreal, Canada, I have been reflecting on what was an amazing gathering of more than 6,300 delegates from all around the world.

Just being able to be together in person felt like a wonderful gift after being deprived of meeting friends and colleagues for so long during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seeing the many joyful faces at the events’ magnificent opening ceremony, which included the glorious and moving Parade of Nations, filled me with a warm feeling of companionship with my fellow nurses.

Many of those delegates had travelled thousands of miles to be with their colleagues and share their experiences, all with the sole aim of improving the nursing profession and the care that nurses deliver to their patients back in their home countries.

We were graced with the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al Hussein of Jordan, who was ICN’s Guest of Honour at Congress. Princess Muna is the World Health Organization (WHO) Patron for Nursing and Midwifery and a long-time supporter of the International Council of Nurses: she stayed for the whole of Congress, and it was a real pleasure to meet her and hear about her passionate interest in the nursing profession.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Congress and was warmly received by the audience who appreciated his remarks about the importance of supporting nurses in their vital work.

Canada’s Federal Health Minister Jean Yves Duclos, who also attended in person, spoke about nursing’s role in helping Canada to make its health system better, and WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appeared on video, praising nurses for their tireless work during the pandemic and since, and announcing a new State of the World’s Nursing report.

I was very lucky to spend some time with Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer Dr Leigh Chapman, who has spent much of her first year in post travelling around Canada’s vase provinces and territories getting to know the challenges nurses are facing on the ground. Her inspiring leadership shows the benefits of each country having a government-level CNO in place who can represent nursing at the very highest levels of policymaking.

As with all such events, Congress’s huge scientific programme was the main focus for many of the delegates. The programme enabled nurse clinicians and academics to share their work with their peers and learn from each other, and there were many other side events that showed the breadth of nursing around the world. I was able to attend many of these sessions, including meetings with ICN’s National Nurses Associations and affiliates, ICN’s Global Nursing Leadership Institute, the Advanced Practice Nurse Network and a symposium on the International Classification for Nursing Practice.

ICN Congress 2023 was an extremely successful event and I know that colleagues from the Finnish Nursing Association will be keen to ensure that their Congress, which will be held in Helsinki on June 9-13 2025, maintains the very high standards set in Montreal. Please put a note in your diary to make sure that you don’t miss out on attending the next grand gathering of the world’s nurses.

PS Don’t forget you can access free ICN learning modules on Patient Safety and WHO’s Global Strategic Nursing Directions for Nursing and Midwifery here