Suzanne S. Prevost, PhD, RN, COI
Needed: Nurse Leaders to Help Vulnerable Populations
Underserved and vulnerable people are often overlooked, may be mistreated and often don’t have a strong voice to call for help. As nurse leaders and members of Sigma Theta Tau International, there are many opportunities to help the vulnerable populations we see and treat every day. The rural and urban poor, ethnic minorities, mothers, children, the elderly and people with disabilities are especially at risk. Through STTI’s International Leadership Institute (ILI) there are many opportunities to impact and address the needs of vulnerable populations across the life span and around the world.
Our leadership academy experiences include opportunities for participants to work with a mentor and an interdisciplinary team from the same practice setting or community to develop a project. The processes and outcomes of these projects are disseminated locally, at national and international meetings, and often through publications. With each year, the success and impact of these programs continues to grow.
The current Maternal-Child Health Nurse Leadership Academy (MCHNLA) kicked off its newest cohort recently in Indianapolis, Ind., USA. The group of faculty, fellows and mentors are anxious to start an 18-month journey that will be intense and possibly career-changing. The MCHNLA is an experience for nurses and nurse midwives who are committed to leading health care practice changes for mothers and children. The goal of the academy is to prepare this group to be leaders who will make an impact in the population they serve.
It is estimated 358,000 women die from pregnancy complications annually around the world (United Nations, 2010). Beyond the maternal complications it is also estimated that 4 million babies die within the first four months of life (World Health Organization, 2005). The MCHNLA aims to stretch and challenge the fellows to prepare them to impact the communities they serve. Through the partnership between STTI and Johnson & Johnson, the MCHNLA has become the premier leadership development opportunity for nurses and nurse midwives dedicated to influencing maternal-child health care practice, policy and outcomes. We are particularly excited that this year, Johnson & Johnson has also provided support to run a second cohort of this program in South Africa.
On the other end of the age continuum, we have a worldwide shortage of health care providers who possess the unique knowledge and skills to provide specialized care and leadership for the expanding elder population. In response, STTI has partnered with The John A. Hartford Foundation to develop the Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy (GNLA). Fellows of GNLA become active participants in the national network of geriatric nursing leaders. The current GNLA fellows also recently started their journeys. In the process, they are making changes and leading the charge to create environments of success. This is a premier leadership opportunity for nurses dedicated to influencing policy and geriatric health outcomes. This growing cadre of geriatric experts has begun a collective movement tochangeand improve care for older adults. The faculty for the GNLA has created a curriculum for developing leadership knowledge and competence.
As we grow and change and choose our individual career paths, STTI offers many opportunities through ILI to make a positive impact on vulnerable populations. I urge you to consider your personal leadership journey and how STTI can support you in that quest. Information is available on all STTI leadership academies and programs on our website.
Suzanne S. Prevost, PhD, RN, COI
Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International
United Nations. 2010. MDG Report. Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2005). The world health report 2005: Make every mother and child count. Geneva: WHO.