In honor of International Nurses Week, we’ve explored how nurses embed themselves in rural communities in southern Mexico and how they mentor one another at clinics throughout Rwanda. Today we focus on how nurses operate in one specific hospital, Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (University Hospital), the first teaching hospital in central Haiti. It’s a facility that depends on the nimbleness of nurses and their unwavering commitment to improving the patient experience.
University Hospital also will serve as a site for clinical rotations for Haiti’s national nursing schools, and offer nurses advanced training in several specialty areas, including emergency care, neonatal intensive care, and surgery.
Sheila Davis, PIH’s chief nursing officer, recently sat down with Alexandra Millien, nursing manager of University Hospital’s outpatient clinic, to discuss how nursing is evolving in Haiti, what University Hospital means to the community, and how the hospital is elevating the standard of nursing across the country.
Davis: How long have you been a nurse, and where did you work before?
Millien: Since 2007 I’ve been a nurse. I was previously working in Belladère [a PIH/Zanmi Lasante district hospital] at the pediatric outpatient and inpatient areas. It was a good experience.
Tell us about your first nursing job.
First I worked in a nursery for children. After that, I worked with Management Sciences for Health, running some of their maternal-child health programs across sites. And then the earthquake happened, and I was responsible for running nutrition services for the four camps that Zanmi Lasante ran in Port-au-Prince. And then I transitioned to Belladère.
And what’s your job now at Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (University Hospital)?
Nursing manager for the outpatient clinic.
What excites you about working at University Hospital?
This is a large hospital with a lot of new equipment that we’ve never had access to before. It’s a really incredible opportunity to provide the highest standard of nursing possible.
When patients come into University Hospital, what do you want them to say about nursing care?
The first thing I would hope for is that they are very satisfied. Our main goal is making sure our patients are getting the care they want and need so that they’ll return again when they need to. For instance, if they have to come back and get a surgical procedure, we hope they won’t be scared because they know from their first experience that they’ll be in good care.
How do you think nursing in Haiti is changing?
In comparison to 10 years ago, there have been lots and lots of increases in medical technology around the world. We’ve come really far along. And in 10 years from now, nursing will continue to evolve with new technologies and advancements.
What should the global nursing community know about University Hospital?
Nursing at University Hospital is being prioritized. Every month there’s an evaluation of nurses—there’s a new standard. Every person at every stage of care is doing everything they can that is best for their patient.
What would you ask the global nursing community?
I’d ask the international nursing community to help Haitian nurses stay up-to-date on all new advancements, because a lot of time our training is outdated and others have opportunities quicker than we do. We’d like training opportunities for Haitian nurses to happen in a timely fashion so they’re not behind the times.
And why did you become a nurse?
[Laughs] Because I like to take care of people.
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