Lisa Ashley, Senior Nurse Advisor, Canadian Nurses Association
Barb Mildon, President, Canadian Nurses Association
Cynthia Johansen, Registrar/CEO, CRNBC
Christine Penney, Deputy Registrar and Director of Policy, Practice and QA, CRNBC

This month, I travelled to Geneva to attend a meeting with the International Nurse Regulators Collaborative (INRC), of which CRNBC is a member. I was also privileged to attend the World Health Professions Regulators Conference and the International Council of Nurses’ meetings for nurse regulators, associations, unions, chief nursing officers and executives.

There is something sobering about meeting with nurse leaders from around the globe. Whether in Canada, China, Zimbabwe, Croatia, United Arab Emirates, Cuba or the Philippines, the nursing profession worldwide is confronting remarkably similar issues. Nurses around the world are facing an aging population, increasing patient acuity, rapid changes in technologies, emerging diseases resistant to drugs and ongoing strains to human resources.

Similarly, nurse and other health professional regulators share many common concerns. Although the challenges I face as a nursing regulator in Canada seem daunting, I know that I am not alone. Countries around the world are all grappling with similar dilemmas in setting standards for nurses, ensuring that they are upheld and we are reasonable in our decisions. And we must do all this without putting up unnecessary barriers to the mobility of nurses who are moving around the world at a record rate. It is becoming more and more important for nurse regulators to share information and processes, collaborate on the development of standards and to develop strong foundations of mutual trust. As I reflect on the dialogue and discussions that took place while in Geneva, one thing is clear: we share more similarities than differences, and can benefit greatly through strong partnerships.

The INRC is making huge efforts to do just that. Made up of nurse regulators from Australia, Canada (British Columbia and Ontario), Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom and United States, the INRC has developed a universal guideline for nurses using social media—something we will be releasing in the coming months. This guideline will be posted on our websites and will serve as a foundational document for providing guidance to nurses on the use of social media. For the first time, a group of international regulators will hold nurses to a shared set of expectations. I know that this will be the first of many efforts from this group. Given that we have so much in common, I expect that nurses will see more collaboration between regulators at an international level. Not only is this broader and global approach a good thing to do, it is our responsibility as nursing regulators. When we share information and knowledge we ensure stronger patient safety and protection of the public. And in the end that is the most compelling reason for us to continue to find new ways to work together. In fact, such partnership are becoming an important duty for regulators of health professionals worldwide.