Nursing in Europe: A Resource for Better Health

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WHO Regional Office Europe, 1997 - Medical - 278 pages
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Nursing in Europe is a comprehensive report on the role and functions of nurses and midwives within the health systems of European countries, including countries of central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) and the newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. The report draws on findings from an unprecedented WHO study conducted in response to the paucity of reliable data on nursing practices in Europe. The study, which collected data according to a standard format and prepared uniform profiles for 45 countries, aimed to document the functions, status, and working conditions of nurses while also answering fundamental questions concerning why the nursing profession remains undervalued and underdeveloped. Apart from providing the first comprehensive description of nursing in Europe, the report establishes a solid foundation for identifying problems and initiating reforms that can help nurses realize their great potential contribution to primary health care.

The report has eight chapters presented in three parts. The first and most extensive part summarizes key findings concerning the place of nursing in national healthy policy, the extent to which nurses enjoy a leadership role in ministries of health, regulatory frameworks that govern nursing practice, the role and functions of nurses, and the specialized roles of midwifery, community nursing, and mental health nursing. Also covered are country data indicating the extent to which the number and qualifications of nurses match national needs, conditions of work, including pay, working hours, and leave entitlements, education and training, and research aimed at demonstrating the value and cost-effectiveness of specific nursing practices. Each topic is covered according to a common format, which discusses the relevance to nursing development, describes the situation in CCEE, NIS, and Western Europe, and issues recommendations for change. Throughout, key findings are presented in numerous tables and graphs, which facilitate country comparisons.

Against this background, chapters in part two describe specific strategies for action. These include initiatives that can be taken by nurses themselves, the use of national action plans for nursing and midwifery, the creation of a chief nurse position in government ministries, and several initiatives of the WHO Regional Office for Europe aimed at optimizing the contribution of nurses to primary health care and health for all. Chapters in the final part describe innovative projects designed to demonstrate the impact of nurses on health outcomes and thus strengthen their role as a resource for better health.

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