Nan Gaylord, Associate Dean for Practice and Global Affairs, Susan Hèbert, Director of Simulation, and Virginia Fowler, Coordinator for the Center for Nursing Practice, laid the groundwork for a partnership between the College of Nursing and nurses in central Kenya.
Supported by a generous gift from Poppy and Richard Buchanan, a partnership was established between the College of Nursing and the WAKA School of Nursing in Nyeri, Kenya. Gaylord, Hèbert, and Fowler traveled to Kenya in November to develop collaborative relationships between the college, the WAKA School of Nursing and the Samaria Health Center, a nurse-led clinic in Ndathi, Kenya.
The team shared innovative experiential learning opportunities with the WAKA students and taught the WAKA faculty how to provide content to their students using best practices in simulation and student learning.
Gaylord and Hèbert also led trainings in newborn resuscitation through the Helping Babies Breathe program. Faculty, students, nurses from 8 hospitals, and local clinical providers attended in order to learn how to improve neonatal outcomes in their community. Facilitating these educational experiences was exceptionally rewarding for Gaylord and Hèbert.
The team also spent time in the Samaria Health Center, located near the base of Mt. Kenya. “We were able to observe firsthand how care in Kenya differs from the United States to address the specific health disparities and prevalent disease states unique to this country,” said Hèbert. “We were so impressed how nurses play such an important role in the care of the rural Kenyans as their access to health care is limited.”
Fowler said she valued the opportunity to learn from other cultures during her two weeks abroad. “Technology will allow us to stay connected in many ways, but a true cultural immersion cannot be replaced,” she said. “Trips of this kind enhance our cultural competency and perspectives of global issues.”
“Health care access is an issue for the people of Kenya,” explained Gaylord. “Nurses play a vital role in positively impacting health outcomes of communities. We are looking forward to long-term relationships with the WAKA School of Nursing and Samaria Nursing Clinic in hopes of achieving an educational and service exchange program for our students and the Kenyan students.”
Fowler, Gaylord and Hèbert all agreed that the nearly 9,000-mile trip was an impactful and life-changing experience. “We are already thinking of ways to generate interest and bring innovative care ideas to Kenyan nurses as we develop our new partnerships,” said Gaylord.