Continuing our series to celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 and the benefits that nursing and midwifery bring to the health of the global population. And we also mark the publication yesterday (7 April) of the world’s first ever State of the World’s Nursing 2020 Report.
To mark this world first, the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) is delighted to publish a special series of 12 monthly posts to honour the work of nurses who work in palliative care and draw attention to several issues that are linked to this crucial workforce. Today, we hear from Marius Čiurlionis, Head of Nursing, Palliative Medicine and Social Care Clinic, VšĮ Centro Poliklinika, Vilnius, Lithuania, and a founding member of the Baltic Palliative Care Association.
It doesn’t take long to find a report that discusses the leadership crisis – and how new leaders in health care are lacking the relevant leadership abilities. In this post, I would like to explore how contemporary society defines nursing and leadership in palliative care. This could be the key to understanding if we really are suffering from a scarcity of new leaders in nursing and palliative care, or are we just facing a new chapter in health care, where we need to adapt and use different approaches to overcome today’s challenges providing end-of-life care. And finally, I would like to look at the next generation of nursing leaders in palliative care and what skills and abilities they need.
Our world is in constant development because of innovative solutions and technologies followed by steady globalization. Scientific achievements and robotics have a major impact on our labour market, communication and expectations of society. No wonder their impact affects health care, especially nursing, where personal contact is essential and personalised care is fundamental.
In addition, considering the major demographic changes occurring globally and rapid increase of chronic diseases we need to learn how the healthcare needs of people with life-threatening illnesses will change in order to project nursing services in palliative care.
Every day, nurses are dealing with human health and wellbeing and there is very little room for error. At the same time, there is growing pressure on healthcare professionals from a society that is continually seeking perfection in healthcare services, especially those provided at the very last stages of their lives. Moreover, people don’t want to receive bad news about their health conditions. So, who are the future nurses and what leadership qualities might they need?
What skills are we looking for in future leaders?
Very shortly, ‘millennial nurses’ (those born between 1981 and 1996) will be knocking at our door and the first thing we need to do before they do so is to gain knowledge about their perceptions. It is important to identify their attitude towards empathy and compassion, as well as ability in decision-making that may provide a framework for further developments of palliative care.
Once armed with this knowledge, we could develop a host of effective integration routines. Millennials are usually considered to be very maverick and independent, but great team players, striving for the highest achievements. And these characteristics are essential while providing palliative care. Another thing we need to keep in our minds is that innovative technologies are a big part of the new generation’s lives. And here we have an opportunity to design a new approach for developing future palliative care leaders in nursing based on their potential, capacity and expertise.
Global thinking, flexibility and competence
Perhaps global thinking should take priority: globalization is a fact that people in communities face every day, thus future leaders need to develop the ability to work across countries and cultures.
And second, flexibility: people working with professionals from multicultural backgrounds will have to adapt to different needs and unfamiliar environments. Sustainable decision-making is already one of the most desired skills today. Many employers are looking for people who can analyze the situation before making a decision, as this could bring positive long-term consequences to our society.
Last, but not least, is competence and the capability to overcome burdens caused bythe contrast of the generations. We live in times of generational transformation and ability to support people with different healthcare needs and different understanding of values will be one of the greatest challenges in the upcoming decade
Although palliative care is recognized as a multidisciplinary specialty, nurses represent the largest group of healthcare professionals in end-of-life care – the reason why their role is so crucial. Moreover, their rapidly growing responsibilities provide a unique opportunity for nurses to participate in policy forming. Recognizing the importance of this role is an active call for nurses to take leadership in palliative care.
And the leadership is about to change entirely in the near future. Today’s nursing leaders and employers have to start designing innovative leadership programmes to provide training and develop skills that will help to widen access and solve future challenges in nursing and palliative care. There will be a great need for transition models to help us understand how people feel as you guide them through change.
Leaders are not only managers or administrators, but everyday heroes working in hospices, home care, and specialized palliative care departments – leaders are people bringing a role model of their devotion to their work.
Celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 on the EAPC blog #nurses2020 #midwives2020
View the series here and join us again in May when Professor Bridget Johnson, Florence Nightingale Foundation Chair in Clinical Nursing Practice Research in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, University of Glasgow, Scotland, will be our guest writer.
Links and resources
- ‘State of the World’s 2020 Nursing Report’ published by World Health Organization. The report provides the most up-to-date evidence on and policy options for the global nursing workforce. It also presents a compelling case for considerable – yet feasible – investment in nursing education, jobs, and leadership. An online section available on the NHWA online portal contains individual country profiles presenting key statistics on nursing workforce.
- Follow the Baltic Palliative Care Association on Facebook.
- Baltic Palliative Care Association website.
- Contact Marius Čiurlionis by email.
- Read Marius Čiurlionis’s earlier posts and others from East and Central Europe on the EAPC blog.