The International Year of the Nurse: The Tri-Council’s Contribution

Posted 1/30/2020
In the next 12 months, the Tri-Council collectively and as individual organizations will both lead and participate in events highlighting how our profession can address contemporary health challenges, inform policy, generate consensus and produce results.

2020 marks an auspicious year in the evolution of the nursing profession.  Designated by the World Health Organization1 (WHO) as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife there are a number of celebrations set to take place across the globe that are designed to feature and promote the contributions that the professions are making to the health and well-being of the world’s citizens.  Here in the U.S., several organizations and groups will highlight, as part of regular meetings or via special events, the opportunities that the acclamation of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife will bring.

The Tri-Council and its Contribution

The Tri-Council for Nursing is an alliance of five autonomous nursing organizations focused on education, practice and regulation.  While each organization has its own constituent membership and unique mission, the Tri-Council is united by common values. The group convenes regularly for the purpose of dialogue and consensus building, to provide stewardship within the profession of nursing.  These organizations represent nurses in practice, nurse executives and nursing educators. The Tri-Council’s diverse interests encompass the nursing work environment, health care legislation and policy, quality of health care, nursing education, practice, research and leadership across all segments of the health delivery system.

The Tri-Council for Nursing grew out of a 1973 interorganizational committee and a 1975 coordinating forum and was founded by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National League for Nursing. In 1985, they were joined by American Organization for Nursing Leadership and most recently in 2019 NCSBN became a member of the alliance.

In representing practice, education and regulation, the Tri-Council welcomes the possibilities and potential that the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife brings.  It offers a time to reflect on those nurses who, through their innovative and visionary contributions, have brought us to this point.  But  more importantly, it offers an opportunity to celebrate success, identify challenges and propose solutions.  Over the years, nursing has shown itself to be agile and adaptable to the needs of society.  Currently health needs are changing, and as a result our profession can build on the past to shape and deliver the future.  To achieve this, we need to work together, utilize the power of our networks and coordinate our actions. 

In the next 12 months, the Tri-Council collectively and as individual organizations will both lead and participate in events highlighting how our profession can address contemporary health challenges, inform policy, generate consensus and produce results.  Each month, the Tri-Council will provide information on different contemporary topics that recognizes nursing’s wide-ranging contributions. 

Looking Ahead

As part of the 2020 celebrations the WHO, in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses and the Nursing Now Campaign, is producing an inaugural “State of the World Nursing” report.  The report will focus on how nursing can contribute to the pursuit of universal health coverage and relevant sustainable development goals2.  Information on a wide range of issues including the numbers of nurses, their education, regulation, leadership and conditions of work will be provided.  Additionally, the report will explore a variety of issues and make recommendations on how the profession can contribute to the major challenges that populations face. The report will be launched to coincide with World Health Day on April 7, 2020.  Furthermore, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an update to the “State of the World Midwifery Report3” will be published.  The production of these reports will offer a major opportunity for nursing and midwifery to raise our profile and highlight the many solutions the professions can offer to improving the health and welfare of individuals worldwide.

In May 2020, the World Health Assembly meets in Geneva where representatives of all governments will come together to discuss the reports and consider what further work needs to be done.  WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has encouraged  them to include a senior nurse as part of the official delegation to the assembly.  By having nurses as part of the delegation, there will be real-time opportunities to contribute to briefings, statements and negotiating policy.  The International Year of the Nurse and Midwife has given us an opportunity to command the spotlight. As we all know nurses are experts in solving problems so it is imperative that we take up the challenge to raise our voices, share our expertise and make measurable differences.


1 World Health Organization (2019) Executive Board designates 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”.  Geneva, World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/hrh/news/2019/2020year-of-nurses/en/  (accessed 12/6/2019)

2 United Nations General Assembly (2015) Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York, United Nations General Assembly.  https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E  (accessed 12/6/2019)

UNFPA (2014) The State of the World’s Midwifery: A universal pathway, a woman’s right to health.  New York, NY, United Nations Population Fund. https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/EN_SoWMy2014_complete.pdf  (accessed 12/6/2019)