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Global leader of nursing receives honorary degree from Northumbria University

6th December 2023

The Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nurses, Howard Catton, has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Northumbria University, Newcastle. 

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 135 National Nursing Associations and is amongst the oldest nursing organisations in the world, having been formed in 1899.  

Appointed as CEO of the ICN in 2019, Howard Catton leads 27.9 million nurses across the world, acting as the face and voice of nursing globally and contributing to the international development of policy in healthcare. 

Howard most notably initiated and co-chaired the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing Report in a partnership between the ICN and World Health Organisation (WHO).  

This report informed the development of WHO’s current global nursing strategy and has had a significant impact for the nursing profession, including the development of ethical recruitment standards of internationally trained nurses to prevent further challenges for those countries which had been identified as having insufficient nurses to meet the needs of the population.  

Throughout his career, Howard has worked extensively on issues relating to the nursing and healthcare workforce. He appeared as a prominent figure amid the Covid-19 pandemic, during which he called for psychological support for nurses. 

He has consistently been at the forefront of advocating for the protection of nursing and investment into the profession. 

Howard qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1988 and has held a variety of nursing posts in England, United States and New Zealand.  

For 10 years Howard was Head of Policy and International Affairs at the Royal College of Nursing in the UK, where he worked closely with Government on policy and legislative issues. 

Caption: Howard Catton, Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nurses

Speaking about his honorary degree from Northumbria, which was presented during winter graduation ceremonies held at the University’s Newcastle City Campus, Howard said: “I am delighted to receive this honorary degree on behalf of my colleagues at the ICN and nurses everywhere. Part of ICN’s remit is to champion the wellbeing of nurses, and that has been a vital part of our work, especially over the past four years.  

“Our profession has done so much to help humanity, and in the pandemic, while nursing came into its own, nurses endured a terrible burden with great fortitude. Our health systems were exposed as fragile, and nurses were the front line of defence against a terrible deadly virus. ICN’s #NursesforPeace campaign is continuing to provide practical support for nurses conflict zones and in humanitarian disasters.  

“I accept this award with gratitude on behalf of nurses who continue to deliver over and above what is expected of them, often in difficult and even dangerous situations. Nursing is the golden thread that runs through healthcare, and your show of appreciation of their efforts with this award is very welcome. Thank you.” 

Northumbria University awards honorary degrees to individuals who have obtained the very highest standards of scholarship, outstanding achievement, or distinction worthy of national or international recognition in their academic or professional field. 

Find out more about Northumbria University’s Honorary Graduates

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