State of the World's Nursing 2020: Investing in Education, Jobs, and Leadership - May 2020

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State of the World's Nursing 2020: Investing in Education, Jobs, and Leadership

By Jenn Bodine, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, CEN

To coincide with the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the World Health Organization (WHO, 2020) recently released the State of the World’s Nursing 2020: Investing in Education, Jobs and Leadership. This report is intended to be a source of data and evidence to encourage and maintain the progress of healthcare and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through nursing, to 2030. The SDGs were part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations (UN) as a model for achieving international peace and prosperity (UN, n.d.). Making up 59% of the health professions worldwide (WHO, 2020), nurses are particularly integral to SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being. The State of the World’s Nursing 2020 report focuses on the need to increase nursing education to meet global needs for nurses, the creation of nursing jobs to prepare for future nursing shortages as well as plans for nurse retention within organizations, and the bolstering of nursing leadership so that nurses can be more influential in their contributions to healthcare.

The report notes that to address the expected nursing shortage by 2030, the number of new graduate nurses needs to increase by 8% per year. Additionally, better academic preparation must be implemented to align with international health concerns and to provide new graduate nurses with the skills necessary to be productive members of the interprofessional healthcare team immediately upon graduation. The report also recommends investing in the nursing workforce to help facilitate job creation in response to the nursing shortage. Organizations must develop policies that address nurse retention. Furthermore, while 90% of the nursing workforce is female, women hold very few leadership positions in healthcare. The report recommends appropriate early succession planning through leadership programs and the need for gender equality.

Nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners can make an impact on all three of the aforementioned goals. Academic partnerships are key to informing academia of the everchanging needs of the clinical environment while working to ensure there are enough quality clinical placements for nursing students. NPD practitioners are instrumental in positively influencing nurse retention through onboarding, orientation, educational offerings to ensure competency and professional growth, and transition to practice. Finally, NPD practitioners must position themselves to have a seat at the table to advocate for leadership programs to prepare the future nurses for leadership positions.

Click here to appraise the data and evidence from State of the World’s Nursing 2020: Investing in Education, Jobs and Leadership report. We invite you to post on ANPD’s Discussion Forum to share your insight to NPD practice implications and recommendations for supporting the WHO’s goals for 2030.


United Nations. (n.d.). Sustainable Development Goals. 

World Health Organization (WHO). (2020). State of the world’s nursing 2020: Investing in education, jobs and leadership. World Health Organization.

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