TCU Nursing Partners with the International Council of Nurses to Achieve Global Impact


Erica Burton, International Council of Nurses

Erica Burton, senior analyst of nursing and health policy at the International Council of Nurses, stands in the Annie Richardson Bass Building at TCU Aug. 24, 2018. Burton’s work spans nursing professional practice, socioeconomic welfare of nurses and education and regulation.


TCU Nursing is fortunate to have a collaborative relationship with the International Council of Nursing. Since 2013, two doctoral students, Dr. Sharon Gunn and Dr. Cassandra Wright, have been able to serve as interns with ICN and 17 doctoral students have worked with ICN to develop and revise evidence-based position statements that shape nursing practice globally, said Dr. Kathy Baker, an associate professor at TCU Nursing.

During a visit to TCU Aug. 24, 2018, Erica Burton, a senior analyst of nursing and health policy at ICN, spoke to a group of more than 60 TCU Nursing students, faculty and staff about the role of nurses in global health. In her role at the ICN, Burton works across the nursing professional practice, socioeconomic welfare of nurses and education and regulation pillars.


Erica Burton
Senior Analyst, Nursing & Health Policy
International Council of Nurses

What unique perspectives do nurses contribute to global health policy that can’t be replicated by other health professionals?

Nurses are the largest part of the professional health workforce worldwide. They are on the front line of healthcare and address health in a holistic manner, putting people at the center of care. Nurses work the closest to individuals, families and communities throughout the life-course and as such are uniquely positioned to act as effective practitioners, health coaches, spokespersons and knowledge suppliers and to truly understand their needs.  We then can bring this expertise and understanding to the policy table and contribute to policy that allows these healthcare needs to be met.

How have TCU DNP students been able to contribute to the work of ICN, and what has ICN been able to contribute to their education?

For the past few years, TCU DNP students have been contributing to the review and revision of ICN position statements on a range of topics including the health of migrants, refugees and displaced persons, nursing research and gender equality. The students offer an extremely valuable critical analysis of the position statement and provide a rich evidence base for its revision. In return, this opportunity allows the students to gain insight into one aspect of policy making at the global level and into issues that are important to ICN and nurses worldwide. It is a great experience in synthesizing evidence and learning how to present it to a global audience.

What advice would you give current graduate nursing students or those who are considering an advanced degree related to their role in impacting global health?

Right now is a very exciting time for nursing. The nursing now is highlighting the profession of nursing in a way that it has never happened before. Truly seek to understand what global health means. Understand the issues that are currently affecting the globe and the global initiatives that have been established to address them. Look outside of nursing and outside of the health care sector. Seek to make an impact on the social, political and economic determinants of health. You all have a great opportunity to impact global health. You don’t need to be in a leadership position to be a leader in the profession. Be competent in your conduct, be credible in your delivery, ensure you remain respectful to your credentials and remain committed to your patients, your community and your profession. Above all else use your voice to make a difference.


Erin Kiser ’15
DNP Alumna

How did this experience impact the way you provide care?

My experience with ICN gave me the benefit of a more global view on healthcare, while giving me a greater appreciation for how nurses are able to provide care in the United States. My project also gave me the opportunity to explore other nursing resources I had not previously considered.

What did you gain from working with ICN that couldn’t be replicated elsewhere?

My experience with ICN afforded me the opportunity to look beyond the “American” way of doing things and see that in other countries there are opportunities as well as obstacles to providing care that I had never considered.

What advice would you give current graduate nursing students or those who are considering an advanced degree?

While the coursework is challenging and requires dedicated time, my DNP is one of the things I’m most proud of. The angst of the work is a distant memory, but what has stayed with me is what a tremendously positive experience the program was for me. 


Kelle Tillman
DNP Student

What sparked your interest in this opportunity?

I viewed this as an opportunity to expand my knowledge and reach of the nursing profession beyond our local borders. I was also aware of Dr. Baker’s involvement with the ICN. I have always admired all of Dr. Baker’s endeavors for the nursing profession and felt it was an opportunity to learn from an expert in our field.

What kind of opportunities does TCU’s relationship with ICN provide that you believe will set you apart from your peers?

As nurses we can become siloed in our specific workplaces. TCU’s relationship with the ICN is an opportunity to learn about health care policy from a global perspective. Working with the ICN will provide us with knowledge of the difference our profession can make from a world view not just at our local level.

What lessons can you take from this program to shape your career going forward?

From this program, I have learned that our profession has no borders and we can impact societal issues such as gender equality and nondiscrimination. We must work to continue to advance our profession. We cannot simply be content with the attainment of a terminal degree. It is our duty to always strive to impact and improve health care issues at all levels.


Vicki Wahlenmaier
DNP Student

How do you hope to shape the future of health care?

The position statements I am updating are on tobacco use and female genital mutilation. Both of these topics are important. I am optimistic my work on these topics will lead to the improvement of health in many countries.  Many need to be educated about the harms of tobacco use and female genital mutilation.

What lessons can you take from this program to shape your career going forward?

From what I have learned about and from the ICN, affecting global health is not difficult. It does involve contributing time and effort to national and global organizations. In this age of technology, the inhabitants of the globe are a mouse click away.


Learn more about TCU Nursing’s DNP programs.