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The importance of the International Council of Nurses for Portuguese nursing - Andre Santos

United Kingdom has been through major changes in the last decade including the most divided subject – Brexit. Nursing is being practiced, evolving, progressing everywhere. Nurses are professionals trained to look after the society and not just patients and families alone and that gives nursing a global perspective. Many of the major nursing associations and colleges around the world are members of International Council of Nursing, including Ordem dos Enfermeiros (OE), the Portuguese counterpart of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Back in Portugal, OE has got a pivotal and hybrid role. They regulates the profession in Portugal; which includes taking care of its members, with a code of conduct, similar to the NMC. On the other hand, they also got an important voice in our Portuguese health care system, with policies, developments, protection members, as well as offering admission an insurance protection. All similar to the RCN role. Portuguese nurses have unions as well but their main role is regarding career bargaining and better salaries.


Portugal became a major player within nursing education, being one of the first countries in the world to offer a PHD in nursing, and being known to train highly skilled, compassionate and knowledgeable nurses, where investigation and research are essential for the development of the nursing and our education.


The ICN has got a major role in Portugal and supported the practice around country, such as the introduction of the The International Classification for Nursing Practice (ICNP). ICNP enables nurses to describe and report the practices in a systematic way. The resulting information is used to support care and effective decision-making, and to inform nursing education and health policy. Just a few of multiple factors that influenced the formation of ICNP:

  • recognition within the nursing profession of a need for change and improve

  • a need for better information to support and evidence the transformation.

ICNP makes what we call nursing care plan, which is an intuitive and easy to implement. Also, encourages nurses to reflect in decision making.


According to the Escola Superior de Enfermagem do Porto and the INC, in 2018, the use of ICNP in Portugal has resulted in benefits for individual nurses and citizens. Its widespread adoption has resulted in further benefits for the entire population, for the health sector and for the nursing profession.


We are now debating why should the RCN join again the ICN? Why it is costly? There are many answers for these questions but one is based from my experience as a student nurse and as a Portuguese. OE is a valued member with the ICN and supported the creation of the 15 international research centres for the ICNP including one in Portugal.


The ICN is in the vanguard of nursing, they support progression, research and encouraging networking between peers and nursing associations. This networking results in better exchanges of experiences and knowledge. These are valuable not only for the nurses but also a society as a whole. These are the core of the RCN values and therefore I support and campaign for We Are Global Nurses.

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