Thematic Network on Northern Nursing Education

The network shares best practices in northern nursing education and documents these models in order to promote the establishment of additional northern, rural and remote nursing programs in the eight circumpolar states.


The goal of the NNEN is to address the accessibility and quality of baccalaureate nursing education in the northern regions. The development of a stable, local nursing workforce in the High North promises to improve community health, wellness and self-sufficiency.

Through establishing a network of institutions providing decentralized nursing education to northern communities, in Norway, Canada, Siberia, Finland, Iceland and Greenland, the network hopes to improve the pedagogy of northern nursing education, share best practices, and form a community of students and educators in an annual Innovative Learning Institute on Circumpolar Health to jointly examine and improve the clinical practice of nursing in a northern context.


  • Conduct research assessing pedagogies and didactics most appropriate for northern nursing education;
  • Share best practices amongst northern nursing educators at biannual TN meetings, and a concomitant survey tracking northern nursing education programs, pedagogical models, and recruitment & retention rates;
  • Establish an Innovative Learning Institute for Circumpolar Health to allow northern nursing students to meet and learn from their counterparts around the Circumpolar North;
  • Evaluate the regulation of nursing practice in a northern context across the circumpolar North;
  • Explore different uses of technology, including remote presence technology, to improve accessibility and quality of clinical instruction and continuing education by using technology to develop pedagogics suitable for health care students in the high north; and
  • Facilitate the transfer of knowledge between circumpolar health researchers, and nursing educators and students.
  • During the 7th of December, 2023, NNEN held a meeting, to update all parties about previous as well as future activities, discussed future funding applications and common research projects. The leadership team further informed about the upcoming summer schools and the plans related to this.
  • In October 2-4/2023, NNEN attended the Nordic Conference in Nursing Research in Reykjavik, Island. Participants came from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of Edinburgh, University of Islands and Highlands and Luleå University of Technology. A meeting was held in which also University of Akureyri participated.
  • The University of the Arctic Northern Nursing Education Network (NNEN) will be developing an open textbook on Northern and Indigenous Health and Health Care. The provision of northern health care entails many unique challenges and circumstances that are rarely represented in mainstream health sciences education. This open textbook will provide a resource on health and health care from a northern perspective for the growing number of health professionals being educated in northern communities, as well as provide a useful tool to orient southern health professionals going to work in northern communities. Learning objectives include:
    • Understanding the unique health care needs and professional responsibilities that result from remoteness and population sparsity
    • Identifying the social, environmental and cultural aspects of a community that inform and impact care needs
    • Appreciating traditional and Indigenous medicines and approaches to healing as part of a holistic care system
    • Exploring the similarities and differences in northern health care across the circumpolar region
    Content will be solicited from an interdisciplinary and circumpolar network of educators and scholars, and edited by staff at the University of Saskatchewan. Current partners include University of Saskatchewan; UiT The Arctic University of Norway; Nunavut Arctic College; Aurora College; University College of the North; North-Eastern Federal University; University of Greenland; University of Oulu; and Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
  • The NNEN has also granted PhD stipends to:
    • Michelle Pavloff, University of Saskatchewan, to conduct field research in northern Norway and Sweden in 2018 as she examines innovative and cost effective ways to deliver continuing education to rural and remote registered nurses (RNs).
    • Iris Helene Borch, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, to support a research residency at the Centre for Health Education Scholarship and to visit NNEN partners in British Columbia, Canada to gain knowledge about student evaluation in higher education, including health sciences, and the role evaluation plays in quality enhancement and quality assurance on the different levels within the organization.

The NNEN would like to acknowledge the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) for its funding of its activities.

  • Publication of a Special Issue on Nursing Education in the Circumpolar North in The Northern Review in December 2016. Download and read the journal here.
  • The NNEN led meetings in Prague, Czech Republic, in April 2017 concurrent with the Arctic Science Summit Week, to plan and develop joint course and curriculum development on Northern and Indigenous Health and Health Care, with funding from UArctic and the Government of Norway.
  • The NNEN held its 2nd biannual meeting in Umeå, concurrent with the International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS). The network also hosted a panel on Strategies for Building Health Care on Human Resources in the North as well as a separate presentation on the Thematic Network.
  • The 3rd Innovative Learning Institute for Circumpolar Health was held in Tromsø County, Norway July 3-17, 2017. UiT The Arctic University of Norway hosted ten northern nursing students from eight different UArctic institutions and four Arctic states. The theme of this year’s event was “Roots and Identity”, and participants were encouraged to explore the notion of cultural awareness and what it means when providing nursing care in rural and remote regions of the Circumpolar North.
  • The NNEN successfully obtaining funding from the Government of Denmark to develop “A Greenlandic Model for Inter-Professional Education”.
  • The leads of the NNEN attended the UArctic Congress in St. Petersburg in September 2016 and UArctic Council in Greenland in August 2017.

Other Information

Bente Norbye, former Lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Northern Nursing Education