A Call to Action

Let's Implement and Evaluate the WHO's Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery Right now

Stephanie L. Ferguson, PhD, RN, FAAN; Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN; Sheila Tlou, PhD, RN, FAAN


Nurs Econ. 2022;40(4):187-190. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Creating a nursing and midwifery workforce in health system infrastructures worldwide should be a top priority within health care right now as staffing shortages continue to rise into the future. Nursing and midwifery leaders hold the key to successful health systems and can work within their positions to create a better landscape to prepare for global health emergencies. Now, more than ever, it is important for public and private sectors in health care to collaborate and build a better future for nursing and midwifery


The COVID-19 pandemic has converged with other pressing global threats such as climate change, health inequities, socioeconomic disparities, and workforce shortages to leave the world on the precipice. The pandemic has exposed and preyed upon our weaknesses. It has laid bare the volatile global health landscape and demonstrated the urgent need for action.

While there are significant shortages across all health professions, we are especially pressed to create a strategically positioned nursing and midwifery workforce in health system infrastructures worldwide. In the State of the World's Nursing report (World Health Organization [WHO], 2020), the WHO estimated we will need nearly six million more nurses by 2030 to meet global demand. The emergence of COVID-19 has exacerbated this critical shortage, with significant numbers of nurses opting to leave the profession. Heavy workloads, insufficient resources, burnout, and stress have only intensified the pressure, threatening to further decimate an already depleted supply of workers. In turn, this provider scarcity disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations.

With more emergencies, disasters, and epidemics headed our way, we must act now to avoid catastrophic consequences. Many forward-thinking countries, health organizations, govern ments, foundations, and institutions agree. Some have offered 'future of nursing' mandates – spelling out challenges and putting forth directives. However, in nearly every case, a key piece is missing: A call to action. There is no implementation strategy that makes sense at the leadership level, let alone for nurses and midwives at the bedside and in other aspects of care, including in the community. It is up to us to come up with one.