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Australian academic becomes chief exec of global nurse body

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Dr Isabelle Skinner has been appointed as the new chief executive of the International Council of Nurses, the global body has announced.

Dr Skinner, a registered nurse and a registered midwife, is a member of the Australian College of Nurses and will take up her new post at the ICN on 1 August 2018.

“This is an exciting time for nurses to use our collective voice to lead in transforming our health systems”

Isabelle Skinner

She will replace interim chief executive Professor Thomas Kearns, who has led the organisation for the past nine months. He replaced New Zealander Dr Frances Hughes who left the organisation in August 2017 due to what the ICN described as “unforeseen circumstances”.

Dr Skinner, currently senior research fellow at James Cook University, was selected as chief executive officer from among “highly qualified candidates” from around the world, said the ICN.

It described her an experienced leader in health and education, with expertise in “leading innovation across health systems and high impact research to address complex health and social concerns”.

With 32 years of experience as a nurse, including progressive leadership, consulting and board experience, she has run her own research and consultancy business for the last four years.

Dr Skinner specialises in digital health, especially for reaching patients in remote areas, and has researched and evaluated telehealth services, designed mobile health and electronic health services.

She is a fellow of CRANAplus, the Australian national health professional organisation for remote health practitioners and has won awards for her leadership and advocacy for remote health.

Dr Skinner was “passionate about improving access to specialist health care services for people in remote and rural communities around the world”, said the ICN.

It highlighted that she had worked with health care teams and students in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Zimbabwe and China.

In addition, the health promotion Facebook page she edits has nearly half a million followers in 49 countries.

ICN president Annette Kennedy said: “I am delighted to welcome Dr Skinner as the new head of ICN.

International Council of Nurses

Dr Isabelle Skinner

Isabelle Skinner

“The ICN board and staff look forward to working with her in this new role, as she continues and advances the tremendous work of interim chief executive Professor Thomas Kearns,” she said.

Dr Skinner said: “I look forward to working with the ICN board and all of our national nursing organisations to advance the standing of nurses and nursing globally.

“Nurses are the health systems’ biggest resource and are there in communities around the world preventing illness, monitoring, treating and caring for people across the lifespan,” she said.

She added: “This is an exciting time for nurses to use our collective voice to lead in transforming our health systems and improving the health of our global community.”

The ICN is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Isabelle Skinner brings a wealth of experience as a leader and innovator to her new role, with particular expertise in education and technology, important areas for the future development of the profession.

“The RCN looks forward to working with her,” she added. 

The RCN pulled out of the council in 2014, following a long row about the distribution of financial contributions.

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