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Frequently Asked Questions

Why would nurses be interested in online coursework in Women’s Global Health Leadership?

Have you ever wondered how your role as a patient advocate extends beyond the bedside and into your community? How a society built on RN values of caring, compassion, and community might look? How nursing relates to some of the most pressing social and economic issues of our time, such as extreme poverty, climate change, and famine? Who really decides who lives and who dies? How nurses like you have begun to organize to heal the world, to transform human desperation into human dignity?

The courses will engage nurses and other community members in conversations about vital issues related to health and health care: economic inequality; climate change and other environmental crises; famine; epidemics; failures of the consumer-driven health care model; how health information technology is changing health care; corporate health care providers; global health governance; international trade agreements; nurse migration; impacts of private pharmaceutical companies on drug research and distribution; commodity food speculation: genetically-modified organisms; privatization of public resources and services; cuts in spending on social programs; human rights; and women’s movements for health around the world. Through the certificate program, students will come to understand patient advocacy as advocacy for humanity.

What are the advantages of online courses?

Are you worried that college coursework will take too much time away from your already busy schedule? Are you wondering how you can possibly make time for reading and assignments while working twelve-hour shifts and picking your kids up from school? A significant advantage of online coursework is great flexibility. In consultation with your instructor, you can complete the coursework on a flexible timeline, wherever you are, and at any time of the day or night. Nurses wishing to take courses do not need to be Rutgers students.

Online education enables NNU to communicate the point of view of Direct Care RNs to anyone anywhere in the world. Just when NNU’s campaign for a Robin Hood tax is becoming global, the NNU will be able to reach thousands of nurses and other community members nationally and internationally. Offering courses online allows NNU to strengthen alliances with people and organizations that support our fight for universal health care and a more equitable distribution of resources in the United States and around the world. As NNU goes global, building alliances and community with all who share RN values is becoming increasingly important.

Who teaches the courses?

Courses are taught by NNU Educators.

Why did NNU choose to work with the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University?

Because Rutgers University is accredited, course credit will fulfill general education requirements at most universities and colleges throughout the country.

NNU is collaborating with Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) because it is an internationally renowned consortium of academic-activist centers. The IWL is distinguished for providing leadership training to some of the world’s most formidable women’s leaders. Programs at the IWL include the Center for American Women and Politics, the Institute for Research on Women, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and the Center for Women and Work. The Rutgers Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is also a part of this consortium.

Significantly, the IWL has relationships with many international activist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been active in the fight for a Robin Hood tax, a campaign NNU has spearheaded in the United States. Many of these NGOs, based in the global South (a term used to refer collectively to the poorest regions in the world), share the values that animate NNU’s Nurses Campaign to Heal America. Many were founded on the belief that activists must link their struggles for health and health care to greater public spending on education and social programs; sufficient earning power to avoid deprivation of food, nutrition, and shelter; female literacy; women’s equality; and respect for social, economic, political, and civil rights. Housing a certificate program at the IWL will enable NNU to forge enduring alliances with NGOs working to provide universal health care globally and to better humanity.

I am really interested taking courses but not sure I can afford tuition. Will NNU be offering scholarship opportunities?

Yes. National Nurses United offers a limited number of scholarships each term to NNU members interested in building global solidarity with those who share RN values of caring, compassion, and community.

If you have any questions, please contact the Certificate Programs Administrative Coordinator at or (510) 433–2793.

Are RNs finding the courses interesting and relevant to their work at the bedside every day?

In a word, yes. NNU’s ongoing pilot certificate course, Global Women’s Health Movements, examines how women around the world facilitate change in the global institutions and policies that most impact health globally. Ashley Fauls, an RN who received a scholarship, shares her valuable experience of the course:

"With the Women’s Global Health Leadership Program, NNU has tapped into something strikingly unique, beautiful and revolutionary. As a bedside nurse, I have long felt the urge to take advocacy and care into my community, and-- if the opportunity arose-- to the world at large. However, the task felt so large, so encompassing, and I was at a loss of where to begin. Through the WGHL program, I have had the honor of obtaining solid education as it pertains to health disparities across racial, gender, economic, social and continental lines. I have felt waves of empowerment through the course educators’ continuous supply of relevant, radical reading/viewing material, and stimulating weekly discussions and assignments. My passion for substantive nursing care has been re-kindled, and new passions are emerging on a regular basis. I have been personally and professionally challenged by this learning, and have been astonished by the number of family, friends, and colleagues that are willing, and even eager, to sit, listen, and learn from this essential information. To any nurse considering participation in the WGHL program, I encourage you to surrender to the nudge and jump in! A personal revolution awaits."  

Another scholarship recipient, RN Jeff Breslin, agrees about the value of the pilot course:

"My name is Jeff Breslin and I am a Registered Nurse in Michigan and an advocate for my patients both inside and outside the hospital. I saw an opportunity through this certificate program to expand my knowledge and therefore my ability to advocate for my patients and my profession. I just finished the first two classes in the seven class series and I have to say they were outstanding. The course content and presentation helped to articulate many of the things that I already have seen in my practice as well as delve into new areas that every nurse/patient advocate should be aware of. I looked forward every week to the rich discussion on the discussion boards. The class was made up of many different people from varying backgrounds, which allowed full exploration of the topics at hand. I found myself not only learning but also helping teach some of the other students who have not had as much exposure to health care and women’s health issues. I look forward to the next classes in this program and would recommend these to every nurse. This will help take their advocacy to the next level with very informed, very educated information that will help improve their effectiveness not only at the bedside but also in their role as an advocate."

Jana Siu, RN, a scholarship recipient, shares her experience of taking classes in the certificate program:

"What is amazing about the Women’s Global Health Leadership courses is that they teach you social structures from a grand scale to the individual level, social structures that perpetuate global injustices and human rights violations. Instead of just knowing that these things happen, we learn the 'why’s' and the 'how’s'. Through that, I was able to truly be awakened and gain insight so that I could see solutions for our community. Seeing solutions is crucial to being engaged while living in a society where we are being driven into apathy with the overwhelming amount of information [with which we are bombarded.]  At first I was afraid to take these classes because I will admit that I am not as well-versed as I should be with current events and politics. I feel very different now. As nurses, we are given the opportunities to directly see human suffering through our patients. And yes, the power of touch and empathy are some of our strongest tools, but knowledge is even more so.  Because of these classes, I have gained a wider scope of the power of my profession, which has affected the way I practice, the way I live, and the way I vote."

Another scholarship recipient, Dorothy Calvert, RN, agrees that taking courses in the certificate program is valuable for patient advocates:

"I have loved taking this course….  I've learned so much!  Many times during the course of this class I've wished that there was a way to get this same information to all nurses.  It is information that is relevant to day to day care of our patients and our own families…In the course, students are challenged to examine their own lifestyles and choices regarding consumerism and to relate those personal understandings to nursing practice and the delivery of health care."

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Related Links

Rutgers University
Rutgers University, Department of Women's and Gender Studies