The Public Health Nursing Series is a 20-blog collection, written by William (Billy) Rosa, author of the forthcoming title, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership (June 2016), that sparks a dialogue about each and every nurse's role in advancing and creating the future of global health. With a focus on cultural considerations and the current status of healthcare in nations worldwide, nurses will learn how they are called to contribute to each of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, an international initiative that seeks to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all over the next 15 years.This series makes the case that every nurse, regardless of title, position, or credential, is a public health leader.

Sustainable Development Goal #8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth (Part 11)

Americans know the realities of economic depression. The last decade has seen millions of people throughout the United States grappling to get by, pay mortgages, and find reliable employment that meets their financial needs. Imagine, in a global economy where about half of the world’s population lives on the equivalent of $2 per day, this struggle is not a hypothetical or a temporary hardship – it is reality. It impacts children, men, and women of all ages and challenges them in every way possible. It prevents them from getting the nutrition they need, the safe living quarters they deserve, and the healthcare that is a human right. It is an unending cycle of poverty where having work does not necessarily mean security and the number of quality jobs available require educational preparation simply too expensive for many people to afford. It can be an inescapable cycle and may carry with it damaging and lifelong health implications.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #8 seeks to “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all” by 2030 (United Nations Sustainable Development [UNSD], 2016). Some of the goal targets include:

  • Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances
  • Achieve higher levels of economic productivity
  • Create full and productive work opportunities for all women and men, and those with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • Take measures to end forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and eliminate child labor
  • Protect labor rights and create safe working environments for all workers
  • Promote sustainable tourism that increases job opportunities

Public health nurses are vital to the procurement of the aforementioned targets while maintaining human dignity and ensuring the health of all involved. By partnering with and educating clients about organizations that are seeking to accomplish these goals, public health nurses become integral to their economic well-being; a prime indicator of their overall health.

Acumen (2016a) is one such organization that seeks to invest in people as entrepreneurs, providing them with the resources needed to start their businesses, the training required to successfully manage new ventures, and the skills to become valuable leaders in their communities. Acumen provides them with a long-term repayment plan at an extremely low interest rate called patient capital. The funds gained from the repayment are then reinvested into the same communities to foster sustainability and spread opportunities for others.

Acumen is rooted in an ethical foundation called moral imagination and is about empowering investees so they can affect meaningful change with dignity. Acumen’s (2016b) manifesto reads:

It starts by standing with the poor, listening to voices unheard, and recognizing potential where others see despair.

It demands investing as a means, not an end, daring to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. It makes capital work for us, not control us.

It thrives on moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. It’s having the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.

It requires patience and kindness, resilience and grit: a hard-edged hope. It’s leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, and challenges corruption. Doing what’s right, not what’s easy.

Acumen: it’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and building a world based on dignity.

As public health nurses seek opportunities to impact change through SDG #8, companies such as Acumen become viable partners. Educating the public and policy makers about the relationship between economic well-being and overall health is essential. By engaging with those most affected by poverty through a lens of moral imagination, we contribute to SDG #8 with integrity and dignity.


Acumen. (2016a). What we do. Retrieved from

Acumen. (2016b). Manifesto. Retrieved from

United Nations Sustainable Development (UNSD). (2016). Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. Retrieved from

More About the Author

William (Billy) Rosa, MS, RN, LMT, AHN-BC, AGPCNP-BC, CCRN-CMC, is currently Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda and ICU Clinical Educator, Rwanda Military Hospital, Human Resources for Health Program in partnership with the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He currently has over 65 publications for refereed and non-refereed journals, newspapers, magazines, and national platform blogs and his book, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership, will be released by Springer in June 2016. Billy currently sits on the US Advisory Board for the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health, and most recently received the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' 2015 National Circle of Excellence Award and the Association for Nursing Professional Development's 2015 National Change Agent/Team Member Award.

 Quick Links

Part 1 -  Understanding the Nurse as a Public Health Leader

Part 12 - Sustainable Development Goal #9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure