Engaging the Next Nightingales

Future nurse leaders across hemisphere join Nightingale Challenge through bilingual remote learning at SONHS

The Nightingale Challenge is a global call for employers to provide leadership training to at least 20,000 early career nurses in 2020—the 200th anniversary of the birth of outspoken nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale. As of June, 28,287 nurses and midwives from 741 employers in 73 nations had accepted the Nightingale Challenge, according to Nursing Now. The University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) accepted Nursing Now’s 2020 Nightingale Challenge, launching the Nightingale Challenge Leadership Development Program in January 2020. To date, over 40 early-career nurses working in hospitals in South Florida and Latin America have engaged in the semester-long, hybrid in-person/remote-learning experience.



To identify eligible program participants, SONHS Dean Cindy L. Munro queried chief nursing officers at dozens of South Florida hospitals for their most promising nurse leader candidates. At the same time, Dr. Johis Ortega, director of the school’s PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre, reached out to Collaborating Centre partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to solicit nominees for the program.

Through these recruiting efforts, the school exceeded its initial goal of 30 nurse nominees and 20 participants. Of the 11 South Florida nurses nominated, 9 responded to the invitation, and 6 engaged in the program; two-thirds were female. Response from international partners was more robust, with over 70 nominees from half a dozen countries expressing interest in the remote-learning initiative and more than half participating. The education level of participating RNs ranged from undergraduate to Ph.D. Participants worked in a variety of facility types, including public, private, academic, and children’s hospitals.

In order to promote retention, Dean Munro’s formal welcome letter to the program was followed by email communications sent prior to each program event. The international cohort received instructions in both English and Spanish for logging in to the Zoom meeting platform prior to each leadership session.



The curriculum for the SONHS Nightingale Challenge Leadership Development Program offered a hybrid lecture/dialogue format. Participants were invited to attend the Nursing Now USA South Florida Lecture Series, featuring an array of distinguished nursing leaders, including Drs. Barbara Stilwell (Nursing Now), Patricia Flatley Brennan (NIH/NINR), and Elizabeth Madigan (Sigma). South Florida participants were invited to take part on site, at the SONHS Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies. International participants were invited to view lectures broadcast live via Zoom, with concurrent Spanish-language interpretation provided.

Following each lecture, participants had the opportunity to engage in small groups for meaningful moderated discussions about transformational nurse leadership. Dean Munro and Associate Dean Dr. Mary Hooshmand facilitated post-lecture discussions between the distinguished speakers and U.S. Nightingale participants. Dr. Johis Ortega, director of the School’s PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre and associate dean for Hemispheric and Global Initiatives, led bilingual post-lecture discussions with the international participants.

Curriculum-based questions provided in advance encouraged open dialogue and personal reflection on the opportunities and challenges of transformational nurse leadership. In addition to connecting with established nurse leaders, the discussion format helped participants connect with a new network of their own peers from a range of institutions and countries. Participants received course materials and continuing education credits.



Thanks to the existing remote-learning protocol established for international participants, SONHS was able to easily transition its program to remote attendance for all participants when University-wide social distancing regulations were implemented halfway through the semester. With nurses at all levels of experience thrust to the forefront of an unprecedented global crisis due to COVID-19, the opportunity to engage in directed dialogues with some of the profession’s most distinguished leaders proved a timely, invaluable resource for mentorship, guidance, and ongoing support.



Preliminary feedback from program participants has been positive. The following are a few comments from participants interviewed during the course of the program.

Magaly Miranda Ávila, founder and president of the National Federation of Chilean Nursing Associations (FENASENF), said the Nightingale Challenge offered “the possibility of bringing visibility to our work, of establishing communication with nurses globally, and of promoting the vocation of service in the next generation.”

Juan Carlos Reyes Martínez, a supervising nurse at El Salvador’s National Hospital of Sensuntepeque, Cabañas, said the challenge gave Latin American nurses the chance to contribute to important issues facing the profession. “Nurse leaders are the nexus between the patient and the health care team,” he added. “They need decision-making opportunities and to see themselves as a fundamental and important part of care processes.” 

Participant Yasna Palmeiro Silva, a registered nurse at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, said, “The Nightingale Challenge is a huge opportunity to receive high-quality training from one of the most prestigious universities in the world. This challenge not only helps me to serve as a leader in my field and to strengthen nursing as a profession, but also to influence new generations of nurses who seek solutions to global health challenges.”



Evaluation includes a Qualtrics survey sent to all participants at the end of the program. Participant surveys will be sent again at 6-month and 1-year post-program intervals. Ongoing communication and resources will serve to maintain engagement with participants. Survey results will be used to inform program improvements and identify programming gaps.