Dr Jed Montayre, a lecturer at the School of Clinical Sciences, is heading to Switzerland this week for the Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLI) Policy Programme.
He is one-of-27 nurses selected worldwide to take part in an innovative five-month programme to develop the professional, political and leadership skills to operate effectively in tough policy arenas.
During a weeklong residential workshop in Geneva, he will join participants from government, management, education, advanced practice and research, professional organisations and trade unions.
Together they will examine the policy process, its political context and strategies for evidence-based policy change within a global context. They will also meet with leaders from the International Council of Nurses and World Health Organisation.
Dr Montayre is one of the youngest participants. The move to identify and develop future leaders in nursing reflects the widespread need for succession planning.
"We have strong leadership in nursing, but we also have a rapidly aging workforce. Mentoring needs to happen now if we want to be fully equipped in the future," he says.
Policy and politics determine the health of populations - at a local, regional, national and international level, they shape the practice of nursing and the environments where nurses work.
The fight for pay equity and grim tales of over-worked nurses came to the fore this year, with the anonymous Nurse Florence #hearourvoices social media movement going viral.
In many ways, it's never been easier for people to publicly express their political views. Yet, few people understand how policy works.
Dr Montayre says storytelling can be very powerful, but you still need hard facts to influence policy.
"If nurses are overworked, short-staffed and feel that the quality of care is being compromised, we need to find ways to measure that and provide evidence," he says.
Many nurses have the impression that policymaking happens at a high-level and only involves people 'qualified' to work in that space. But, Dr Montayre urges them to get involved in policy consultations and submissions.
"Policy is something to influence, not something that happens to you. Therefore, we should take a bottom-up problem-solving approach. Everyday practice tells us that we need to focus on quality care, but there's not much we can do unless we involve ourselves in the process," he says.
Dr Montayre would like to see health policy integrated into nursing studies.
"Even undergraduates should understand how policy is made. It would give them the insight and ability to affect change," he says.
"We've seen a lot of industrial action, with people advocating for better working conditions and pay. But, things will change. Demonstration will take place in different forms. The aim is to understand the policy process and work alongside government."
He also encourages research that has the potential to influence policy, as well as responding to the health needs of specific population groups. His own research interests lie in nursing, immigration and aged care.
In 2011, Dr Montayre came to New Zealand from the Philippines. He joined AUT as a lecturer four years later. In 2016, he was named Young Nurse of the Year.