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Geneva, Switzerland; 20 September 2017 – The International Council of Nurses (ICN) announced today the appointment of Professor Thomas Kearns as interim Chief Executive Officer until a new CEO is appointed.
Professor Kearns is taking a sabbatical from his role as the Executive Director of the Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
Throughout his 37-year nursing career, Kearns has gained vast knowledge and experience in professional regulation, educational leadership, strategic planning, project management and research. Prior to his role at RCSI, Kearns was Education Officer and Acting Chief Education Officer in the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (formerly An Bord Altranais), where he conceptualised, scoped, developed and was responsible for managing the Board's on-line Continuing Education directory. His doctorate is in the regulation of CPD and professional competence.
His focus in RCSI has been on blending an entrepreneurial and educational approach to meeting evolving service needs through meeting the education training and practice development needs of nurses and midwives and through innovative project development and research partnerships with multiple stakeholders.
He scoped, researched, developed and implemented a national Aptitude test for overseas nurses wishing to Register and Practice in Ireland. This programme received regulatory approval in 2015. Since December 2015 over 1300 nurses have completed the programme and another 300 have assessments scheduled until December 2017. This work has led to opportunities to work with leading credentialing organisations such as CGFNS.
Kearns has collaborated with European nursing regulators (FEPI/ENC) and in 2014 signed a Service Level Agreement with that organisation enabling the RCSI provide research and project management support to them.
Kearns has extensive experience working with NNAs in Ireland and internationally. He is currently tendering for an EU project in partnership with European Federation of Nurses. Concurrently he is exploring with associations, academics and regulators the development of a European Centre of Excellence for Nursing CPD. This work is in collaboration with EFN and the CGFNS.
He has devised a national eportfolio to support nurses and midwives maintain their Continuing Professional Development and maintain their competence. The eportfolio digital partnership is a UK company with its Dublin office in the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery.
In partnership with the RCSI hospital group and Advanced Nursing and Midwifery Practitioners, Kearns has scoped and developed a support Network for Advanced Practitioners focused on supporting them in areas such as literature searching, research, audit and CPD.
“I am delighted that Thomas has accepted to assist ICN through this transition period,” said Annette Kennedy, ICN President. “He has extensive experience in providing leadership and direction in the development and delivery of key strategic and operational aims and objectives, and I am completely confident that he is the right person to take the helm of ICN at this crucial time.”
Professor Kearns replaces Dr Frances Hughes who left the organisation in August due to unforeseen circumstances. ICN is grateful to Dr Hughes for her great contribution and commitment to delivering on transformation of ICN. ICN would sincerely like to thank Dr Hughes and wish her all the best for her future.

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