Global Health Workforce Development Institute Will Support Population Health Through Research, Certification and Knowledge Generation
In today’s world of global mobility and interconnectedness, health workers — including nurses, doctors, therapists and support staff — increasingly seek to work across borders, contributing their expertise to regions struggling with workforce shortages. Separately, an increasing number of health workers have been displaced by climate change, natural disasters, conflicts and war. But conflicting standards, qualifications and certifications between countries threaten to prevent migrating and displaced health workers from even practicing, much less helping to alleviate workforce shortages in high-need countries and improve health care access for underserved populations.
To address these critical concerns, CGFNS International — a global credentialing and certification body for nursing and the health professions — is establishing a Global Health Workforce Development Institute (GHWDI). Structured as a think-tank, the Institute will be a premier research-focused organization to advance health workforce development scholarship and solutions worldwide. It will advance scientific knowledge about health workforce development, lifelong learning and care delivery through strategic collaborations with other like-minded organizations. The Institute is aiming to promote transformative inquiries of all kinds through research and knowledge generation on health workforce development. Research inquiries will encompass a broad health workforce agenda to include domains such as health professions mobility, education, competency frameworks and care model evolution. It will offer a supportive environment for interdisciplinary and interprofessional discourse for researchers, including university faculty, clinicians, independent researchers and doctoral candidates, both domestic and international.
Why a Global Health Workforce Development Institute?
Given its nearly 50-year mission of assisting internationally educated nurses and other allied health professionals live and work in their country of choice by assessing and validating their academic and professional credentials, CGFNS must now give back by lifting the global health workforce. Through this newly formed Institute, CGFNS will serve as a thought leader and provider of services to support the health workforce’s growth and evolution worldwide through research and policy analysis, new knowledge creation and global assessment and certification. Further, CGFNS’ dedication to standards development, data warehousing and assessment management provides additional impetus to structure a robust research and development institute contributing to global resources for health scholarship. As the world faces an unprecedented health workforce crisis, we need to strengthen our research capabilities to conceive ambitious but necessary initiatives yielding innovative strategies and alternative models to meet that challenge.
To guide the growth of the GHWDI, CGFNS will establish a global advisory council comprised of researchers and assessment experts in the field of health workforce development. One of the central pillars of the GHWDI is to create global certification programs standardizing the assessment and recognition of health workers’ competencies, transcending jurisdictional and national boundaries. Global certification allows stakeholders to work together to arrive at standards that articulate the essentials for safe patient care, regardless of world region or socioeconomic level. These essentials can be used locally, elevating patient safety to global standards. They can likewise be used to recognize health workers through a rigorous certification process as “work-ready,” so they may choose to work in regions facing health care shortages without having to navigate complex — and often cumbersome and conflicting — credentialing processes.
The Role of Global Certification
Julia To Dutka and colleagues have illuminated the transformative potential of global certification in their work with rehabilitation nurses and health workers.1 With a documented and steadily increasing 2.41 billion people living with disabilities worldwide, current approaches consistently fall far short in meeting rehabilitation needs, regardless of world region or income level.2 A global certification system for rehabilitation nurses and health workers will lay the foundation for a skilled health workforce that can meet these needs. This certification approach will not only address global health workforce shortages in the rehabilitation space, but also set a standard for other health sectors to follow by emphasizing the importance and utility of standardized global certifications.
Global certifications provide a streamlined process that attests to the competence of health workers holding those credentials. Although regulatory authorities may still want to attend to specific jurisdictional requirements, the standardization of applied skills and competencies embedded in the assessment minimizes the need for extensive retraining or revalidation when health workers migrate to a new country. This streamlined process significantly enhances workforce mobility and reduces barriers for health workers seeking to apply their expertise gained in one locality to another globally.
To study global health workforce development issues further, the Institute will serve as a hub for health care professionals, educational institutions, licensing authorities and employers across the globe. It will facilitate the exchange of information, best practices and opportunities, connecting all stakeholders in the health workforce ecosystem. The Institute will provide health workers with a platform for continuous learning and development, offering access to the latest research, best practices and innovative techniques in health care. This approach to professional development will foster a culture of lifelong learning and ensure that health workers remain at the forefront of their fields, enhancing collaboration and knowledge sharing, vital for advancing health care globally.
The Institute will support local authorities and institutions to become actively engaged in the certification process, thereby adapting global standards to local contexts and needs. This will ensure that the global certification process remains relevant and effective in addressing specific local health workforce needs across communities worldwide. The Institute’s global certification programs, informed by research, professional standards and assessment rigor, will enable countries to gain access to a global pool of work-ready health workers.
Global Rehabilitation Certification as an Example
In their work on global rehabilitation health worker certification, To Dutka and colleagues also emphasized the local imperatives of a global certification program.3 Three global certifications for rehabilitation, one for rehabilitation nurses and two for health workers, will launch in 2024. These global certifications were created with the expertise of 200 subject matter experts from 45 countries across several rehabilitation fields. The interprofessional and interdisciplinary frameworks advanced by these subject matter experts support care model evolution to improve access to rehabilitation care in local communities worldwide. Global certification programs uphold essential standards of health care practice. They are developed with a strong focus on competency-based assessments, ensuring that health workers possess the requisite skills and knowledge to provide quality care. This, in turn, enhances the overall quality of health care services.
Formalizing the Global Institute
Plans to officially launch the GHWDI will occur in early 2024 with the formation of the advisory council served by colleagues from around the world. We will make every effort to include countries from all world regions and socioeconomic levels to guide the work of the Institute. I.C.E. members engaged in health professions’ credentialing, certification and assessment could get involved in areas of research that pertain to their portfolios.
The Institute will offer a transformative approach to addressing the challenges posed by the demand for access to care and global mobility of health workers seeking to meet these needs. The global nature of our work will require us to focus on initiatives that cut across borders and boundaries, without losing sight of the needs of specific local communities. The triangulation of robust research efforts, global certification programs and knowledge management initiatives will create a comprehensive infrastructure that will help standardize the competencies of health workers for professional practice in local settings and help facilitate their career mobility across boundaries.
By embracing these concepts, nations can collaborate to build a cadre of globally certified health workers, ensuring quality care is accessible to all — regardless of geopolitical borders. In a world that increasingly relies on the interconnectedness of its health care systems, the GHWDI marks a significant step toward a healthier, more equitable global future.
- To Dutka J, Kovic M, Mauk K, Oliver RE. Global Certification: A Transformative Approach to Building the World’s Rehabilitation Health Workforce. J Rehab Therapy. 2021;3(1):21-30. https://doi.org/10.29245/2767-5122/2021/1.1126
- To Dutka J, Gans BM, Bracciano A, Bharadwaj S, Akinwuntan A, Mauk K, Akinci F, Oliver R. Delivering Rehabilitation Care Around the World: Voices from the Field. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2023 Sep;104(9):1385-1393. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2023.03.009. Epub 2023 Mar 28. PMID: 36997079
- To Dutka J, Oliver RE, Akinci F, Beissner K, Bharadwaj SV, Brandt LC, Curtis C, Gunter CD, Henzi DL, Kovic M, Winistorfer WL, Wong MS, Zipp GP. Global Rehabilitation Health Worker Certification: Global Agenda, Local Imperative. J Allied Health. 2021 Spring;50(1):3-8. PMID: 33646244