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My Unforgettable Experience at the World Health Assembly 76

I couldn’t believe my luck when I received the exciting news from the Nursing Now Challenge team. I had been selected to represent early career nurses and midwives at the prestigious World Health Assembly 76 in Geneva, Switzerland. The dates were set from 18 to 24 May 2023. The initial joy was quickly dampened when I discovered that there were no available appointments at the visa application centre before my departure date. Being an Indonesian citizen, I required a visa to travel to Switzerland and other European countries. With uncertainty looming, I tried my best to remain positive, but the visa situation was beyond my control. I convinced myself that it might not be possible for me to attend, just to avoid feeling disappointed if I could not obtain the visa on time. However, I didn’t give up and tirelessly called the visa application centre, seeking any advice or the possibility of securing an earlier appointment. Finally, there was a glimmer of hope when I was informed that the Swiss Embassy would open up additional appointments at the London visa centre. Determined, I refreshed the appointment page countless times until I finally secured one. With just five days left before my departure, I received the visa. The stress I experienced during that time was unimaginable.

The Journey Begins

With the visa hurdle crossed, I attended the pre-departure meeting where Professor Aisha Holloway, the program director of Nursing Now Challenge, enlightened us about the itinerary and what we should expect during our visit. To my surprise, it wasn’t just about observing the assembly and attending information sessions or having a tour of the World Health Organization (WHO). We were expected to be active participants, representing the voices of early career nurses and midwives. We were tasked with establishing connections with delegates from our respective countries and engaging with global health leaders. It was an entirely different level of responsibility that I hadn’t anticipated. At that moment, self-doubt crept in, and my impostor syndrome took hold. I questioned whether I had the capability to fulfil these expectations. Despite Professor Holloway’s reassurances that we were chosen based on our work and contributions to the Nursing Now Challenge, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Am I truly deserving of this opportunity?” I kept this thought to myself.

Arriving in Geneva

Upon my arrival at the hotel where we stayed, little did I know that this journey would not only be about attending the assembly but also about forging connections with inspiring individuals from around the world. I was very fortunate to be able to connect with a vibrant group of individuals who shared the same passion for nursing and midwifery. Among them were Zipporah Iregi from Kenya, Andres de Juan from Spain, Sanele Lukhele from South Africa, Charlotte Jakab-Hall from England, and Sana Gul Baloch from Pakistan. I was bursting with excitement when I finally got to meet Charlotte face-to-face. We had been co-chairs of the Nursing Now Challengers’ Committee, but our interactions were confined to the virtual world. Seeing her in person was such a fantastic experience that took our collaboration to a whole new level!

I also had the pleasure of meeting other remarkable individuals who were also attending the assembly. One such person was Nick Bradshaw from WISH Qatar, a charismatic and funny person with a cat named Skyr – who always had interesting ‘failed moment’ stories to share, which I found brilliant! I also had the privilege of getting to know Dr Sanaa Alharahsheh, research manager at WISH with a kind-hearted woman with a wealth of research experience. She generously shared her insights and knowledge, enriching my understanding of the field.

My experience – the best bits

Where do I even begin? My experience was packed with so many incredible moments and valuable lessons. I wish I could share them all, but I don’t want to put you to sleep! So, let me give you a taste of the highlights that made my journey really remarkable.

Meeting Dr Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu – the power of perseverance and finding our tribe

We had a session to meet Dr Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu, the Chief Nursing Officer at WHO. It was a truly enriching experience as she graciously took the time to answer all of our questions and share her invaluable insights, especially regarding her own leadership journey. What made her words resonate even more deeply was the fact that she understood firsthand what we have experienced, having been in our shoes before. Her leadership journey was truly inspiring, and she reminded us of the importance of staying true to our purpose. She emphasised that, in the face of challenges, we must always remember why we are in this profession: to improve patient outcomes and make a positive impact on healthcare.

Among the many powerful messages Dr Tuipulotu shared, one that struck a chord was the value of perseverance. She encouraged us never to be discouraged by closed doors but rather to seek alternative pathways. If one door is shut, she reminded us to knock on another. Her words reinforced the idea that resilience and determination are key qualities for success on our journey to advance nursing and midwifery.

Dr Tuipulotu also highlighted the power of finding our tribe. She highlighted the significance of surrounding ourselves with individuals who support us and believe in our potential. These like-minded individuals, who share our passion and purpose, can provide us with the grounding and support needed to stay on track. With their honesty and constructive feedback, they help us navigate challenges and ensure that we remain aligned with our goals.

We gained a wealth of valuable knowledge and were deeply inspired by Dr Tuipulotu’s insights and wisdom. Additionally, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to capture some fun-filled moments with her!

Meeting with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – “What can I do for you?”

During his busy schedule, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General at WHO, made time to meet with us in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, we unexpectedly ran into him and took some pictures together, which I thought was already a stroke of luck. Little did I know that there was more in store for us!

Despite my nerves, Dr Tedros displayed kindness and friendliness. We had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and engage in a brief discussion. I was truly impressed by his ability to speak multiple languages, including a flawless pronunciation of “terima kasih” in Indonesian! Of course, we couldn’t miss the chance to take more pictures with him, this time opting for some fun selfies!

One question he asked took me by surprise: “What can I do for you?” It was unexpected, but it showed his willingness to listen and support nurses and midwives. In response, we voiced our aspiration for early career nurses and midwives to have a prominent seat at the table, ensuring our voices were heard and our contributions recognised. It was humbling to witness his genuine humility and interest in our perspectives. His dedication to our profession was evident through the proclamation of 2020 as the Year of Nurses and Midwives, as well as the appointment of a Chief Nurse Officer at WHO.

Visiting the International Council for Nurses (ICN) – the Global Unity of Nursing

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the ICN. The team warmly welcomed us, and we had the pleasure of being shown around by Howard Catton, the CEO. Their office offers a picturesque view of a beautiful lake, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “This is a wonderful place to work!”

As we continued our exploration of the ICN headquarters, I found myself captivated by the organization’s rich history. The walls adorned with photographs of past CEOs and Presidents, along with the diverse collection of souvenirs from around the world, including Indonesia. Discovering a plaque from the Indonesian National Nurses Assocation (INNA) among the displays filled me with a deep sense of pride!

Howard Catton further enlightened us about the significant role the ICN plays in global nursing and healthcare. I was fascinated to learn that the ICN was among the first seven organizations to be accepted into official relations with the WHO back in 1948, showcasing the close collaboration between the two organisations and the invaluable contribution of global nursing to the WHO’s mission. Mr. Catton also highlighted the ICN’s recent work with nurse associations from all over the world, including their involvement in the World Health Assembly 76, where they delivered seven interventions. We were also kindly invited to join a lunch with the global network of Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) and nursing supporters, a gathering that unfortunately I couldn’t attend, leaving me feeling a twinge of disappointment. Perhaps it’s a sign for me to consider returning to Geneva in the future. Who knows what opportunities await?

Our Intervention – A Call to Action  for Preserving the Global Healthcare Workforce

Something unexpected and exciting unfolded after our session with Dr Jim Campbell, the Director of the Health Workforce Department at WHO. Our anticipation was focused on learning about the WHA and gaining insights into diplomatic language and its application. However, little did we know that Dr Campbell had a surprise in store for us! To our astonishment, he revealed that the Nursing Now Challenge had been given a remarkable opportunity to deliver an intervention at the Strategic Roundtable on Tuesday, May 22, 2023, with the topic of “Protecting and investing in the health and care workforce: An action-oriented agenda for the second half of the SDGs.” This news exceeded all our expectations.

With the clock ticking, the six of us gathered in the hotel lounge on Sunday evening, ready to tackle crafting this intervention. We faced the challenge of condensing our presentation to a maximum of 1.5 minutes, approximately 110 words. It was daunting, given the multitude of ideas swirling in our heads. Within these limited words, our aim was to ignite change and spotlight the challenges that prompt professionals to leave our field. While widely acknowledged, we wanted our words to deeply resonate with advocates for investing in the health and care workforce, urging tangible actions (#Walkthetalk). However, compressing our thoughts into a short presentation proved no small feat. Excitement and fatigue mingled as time slipped away. After nearly six hours of intense brainstorming, discussions, and revisions, we distilled our message into those precious 110 words. It was a collective effort fuelled by passion and determination.

On the designated day, Sana Gul Baloch delivered the intervention with confidence and eloquence, capturing the attention of everyone in the room. As the roundtable came to a close, we felt truly honored when Dr. Ghebreyesus himself quoted our words, saying, “As Sana reminded us…accountability.” This acknowledgment reassured us that our voices were being heard and our contribution recognised. I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved.

My Reflection

As my journey unfolded, I came to realise that this experience was about so much more than personal achievements. Attending the World Health Assembly 76 was truly transformative, pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowing me to grow both personally and professionally. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of recognising our own worth and embracing the opportunities that come our way.

Being given the chance to represent the global workforce of early career nurses and midwives was truly an honour and privilege beyond measure. Meeting like-minded individuals from around the world, sharing our experiences, and engaging in discussions about the challenges we face in our respective healthcare systems was truly eye-opening. In those moments, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in my doubts and insecurities. We are all navigating our way through the complexities of our professions, and together, we find strength and inspiration.

I am immensely grateful to the Nursing Now Challenge team, the Burdett Trust for Nursing, WISH Qatar, for providing this incredible platform. The journey was filled with moments of self-reflection, challenges, and accomplishments. It served as a reminder that I am capable, deserving, and part of a global community of healthcare professionals striving to improve the health outcomes for all.

So, if you ever find yourself questioning your worth or doubting your abilities, remember that you are not ‘just a nurse or midwife,’ and you are not alone. Believe in yourself, seize opportunities, and let your light shine brightly in the world of nursing and midwifery. Together, we have the power to make a real difference, and the time is now!

Welcome to my new blog site!

A graphic saying I am a nurse

Hello everyone,

My name is Clarissa and I am a nurse. I was born and raised in Indonesia and have a background in critical care. I’m registered as a nurse in both Indonesia and the UK, which makes me a global nurse. Currently, I work three days a week as a lecturer in Nursing (Life Sciences) and two days as a Research Fellow in Nursing Studies.

I have created this blog with the aim of reflecting on my nursing and leadership journey. Through this platform, I hope to engage in reflective practice and share my personal stories with others. I understand that each individual’s journey is unique and my experiences may differ from others, but I aspire to inspire other Indonesian nurses and beyond who seek to embark on their own global leadership journey.

I’m excited to start this blogging journey with all of you!



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