Judith Shamian is the past president of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). She was elected to the position at ICN’s May 2013 quadrennial congress in Melbourne, Australia. The term of the presidency is 2013-2017.
Dr. Shamian is also the former president and CEO of the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) and past president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA). She is also a professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, a co-investigator with the Nursing Health Services Research Unit, and was the Executive Director of the Canadian federal government’s Office of Nursing Policy for five years. In addition to her extensive international work, she was vice president of Nursing at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto for 10 years and has held various academic positions since 1989.
Dr. Shamian has published and spoken extensively nationally and internationally on a wide range of topics. Government departments and agencies and academic bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), often call on her to speak and consult on many issues surrounding nursing, health human resources, leadership, and health-care policy.
Campaign for presidency of the International Council of Nurses
Dr. Shamian's campaign to become ICN president focused on uniting nursing, health-care and other groups to ensure nurses are able to turn their “expertise, experience and credibility into tangible policy action on the ground for the benefit of humanity.” She said her “top priority as ICN president would be supporting outreach activities that multiply opportunities for nurses to connect, building mutual understanding and trust."
Dr. Shamian's “vision” for ICN is to maximize the organization’s ability to empower nurses and nursing organizations to influence nursing and health agendas globally. She has a three-point plan to achieve this:
- Focus on health-care solutions. Optimizing the use of evidence and expertise is essential to convince governments and others to improve health-care policy.
- Ensure nursing speaks with one voice on key issues. When professional associations, unions and regulatory bodies present clear messages, they cannot be ignored.
- Listen and work with nursing organizations and nurses around the world. ICN’s greatest resources are individual nurses and nursing organizations. Together, we can make ICN and its member organizations the best they can be.
Dr. Shamian has worked extensively with national and international partners to strengthen health policy.
In the 1980s, she worked in Botswana on an International Development Research Centre-funded research project – the first nursing research project in the country. The University of Botswana now has numerous PhD-prepared faculty members and offers graduate education. Later, she established the first World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Leadership Development in a hospital environment, which brought together nurse executives from the Caribbean, Israel, Eastern Europe and Africa to learn more about their role in leading a facility’s nursing services.
Dr. Shamian has also been a consultant on nursing projects in Israel, China, the Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Hungary and the United States; one of her major accomplishments was helping Polish nurses establish their national nursing association. She has also contributed to many expert panels, including several for the World Health Organization: the Expert Advisory Panel on Nursing, the Nursing Advisory Group, and the Global Advisory Committee on Nursing and Midwifery.Dr. Shamian served as a Commissioner at the UN High Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth during 2016.
As the president and CEO of VON Canada, Dr. Shamian guided the organization through a time of transition and transformation. She created a reorganized structure to ensure VON would continue to be Canada’s largest, not-for-profit, charitable home and community care provider. Dr. Shamian stepped down as CEO in December 2012 and was replaced by Chief Operating Officer John Gallinger.
Dr. Shamian was the president of CNA from 2010-2012. Some of the major initiatives she led include ensuring that nursing’s voice was heard as Canada renewed its 10-year health accord. Dr. Shamian also led CNA on a national tour to hear first-hand the concerns of nurses, and she oversaw CNA’s National Expert Commission, which generated nursing-led solutions to some of the country’s most pressing health-care challenges.
From 1999-2004, Dr. Shamian was executive director of Health Canada's Office of Nursing Policy. She helped lead a study that resulted in policy solutions to improve nurses’ work environments, an example of her longstanding advocacy efforts for nursing solutions to the biggest health-care challenges.
On October 4, 2012, an episode of Undercover Boss, the Canadian reality TV series, aired in which Dr. Shamian worked in disguise to witness the pressures faced by nurses employed by the VON.
Education and awards
Dr. Shamian obtained her PhD from Case Western Reserve, Cleveland, Ohio, her Master's in Public Health from New York University, and her Baccalaureate in Community Nursing from Concordia University in Montreal. She is the 1995 recipient of the Ross Award for Nursing Leadership, the Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 by the Governor General of Canada, the Award of Merit by CNA and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions in 2004, and is the recipient of two honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta in 2005, and Ryerson University, Toronto in 2006. She received the Centennial Award from the Canadian Nurses Association which recognizes nursing leadership over the past 100 years. Dr. Shamian also became an International Fellow with the American Academy of Nursing in 2009. Most recently she received Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award by the Women’s Executive Network.
CNA page, with a message from Dr. Shamian, campaign materials, testimonials and information about the ICN quadrennial congress
- Beth Houser; Kathy Player (2007). Pivotal Moments in Nursing: Leaders Who Changed the Path of a Profession. Sigma Theta Tau. pp. 275–307. ISBN 978-1-930538-19-1.
- Judith Shamian (April 23, 2010). Becoming a Nursing Leader: An interview with Judith Shamian. Nursing Ideas.
- McCann, Wendy (June 5, 1998). "Nurses determine quality of care: poll". The Record (Kitchener, Ontario).
- "Judith Shamian's Publications". Victoria Order of Nurses. Varying Dates. Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Check date values in:
- "Judith Shamian's Presentations as CEO of VON". Victoria Order of Nurses. May 2005-Present. Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Check date values in:
- http://www2.cna-aiic.ca/CNA/documents/pdf/publications/ICN/Judith_Shamian_Statement_Addressing_the_Issues_Facing_eng.pdf[permanent dead link]
- http://www2.cna-aiic.ca/CNA/documents/pdf/publications/ICN/Judith_for_ICN_president_eng.pdf[permanent dead link]