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Barbara Stilwell

Barbara Stilwell

Former Senior Director of Health Workforce Solutions

If it weren’t for Barbara Stilwell, there might not be any nurse practitioners serving patients in England today. When Stilwell was working in the inner city in Birmingham, UK, in the 1970s, she found that many local patients—most of them from India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh—had no one to consult about health issues that weren’t essentially medical (where to get their children immunized, for example, or how to stop smoking), except for the too-busy local general practitioners. Stilwell won a scholarship to study in the United States to become a nurse practitioner. When she returned to the UK, she helped establish England’s first training program for nurse practitioners. In 2008, the UK’s Nursing Times named her one of the top 20 most influential nurses of the past 60 years.

For the past 25 years, Stilwell has worked overseas, first with the World Health Organization (WHO) and now with IntraHealth International, as senior director of health workforce solutions. At the WHO, Stilwell helped change the organization’s approaches to performance improvement and served as the focal point on the migration of health workers, negotiating with ministers of health on strategies to address health worker migration.

Stilwell has helped countries around the world to manage change and development in their own health workforces. She has worked in Eastern Europe with nurses and physicians to introduce modern health care, and in East and Southern Africa to advise on health systems strengthening.

Stilwell offers consulting services in human resources for health, particularly issues relating to nursing, health systems strengthening, the global health workforce shortage, the impacts of health worker migration, and the optimal workforce design to support non-physician clinicians in sub-Saharan Africa.


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