When the January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, among the many homes and buildings destroyed was the country’s public nursing school in Port-au-Prince. The collapse took the lives of nearly 100 nurses, compounding the country’s already existing nursing shortage.
As part of a plan to expand and strengthen Haiti’s nursing community, 12 nursing teachers from Haiti arrived at Regis College this summer to embark on a three-year master’s degree program.
The women, chosen from five public nursing schools across Haiti and the University of Notre Dame, will complete six weeks of courses at Regis. Through return visits and online training in Haiti, they will ultimately graduate from the University of Haiti as nurse practitioners with the goal of transferring their skills to colleagues and a next generation of nurses.
The program is the result of nearly three years of planning among Partners In Health, the Regis College School of Nursing, Science and Health Professions, and Haiti's Ministry of Health. Funding for the program has been provided in large part by the Ansara and Kaneb families.
“Such a level of education for nurses is unheard of in Haiti," Regis president Toni Hays told The Boston Globe recently. She cofounded the program when she was dean of the school’s nursing program in 2007. "Most nurses in Haiti today cannot earn degrees through a university, so nursing instructors are not as respected as other faculty. But this is the beginning of a movement,” she continued.
In keeping with the vision for the program, these newly certified nurse practitioners will return to Regis College after their training to teach the next class of students.
"I’ve learned so many things," said 43-year-old Mirmonde Amazan. "How hospitals work. How training works. How supervision works." She said the level of supervision that nursing students have in the United States has convinced her that she must spend more time with students in a clinical setting.
Sheila Davis, global nursing coordinator for Partners In Health, says the degree program is designed to equip nursing teachers with a new level of critical thinking skills, the ability to problem-solve, and some of the fundamental of principles of nursing research.
“This program represents a long-term investment in nursing in Haiti that will both educate a new generation but also improve health care for the country as a whole,” said Davis.