Rutgers College of Nursing Partners with Haitian University to Help Build Country’s Infrastructure and Keep Skilled Nurses Home

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Haiti’s first graduate nursing program will be modeled after the Rutgers’ nursing master’s curriculum

There was a time when a nurse in Haiti would have to leave the country to get an advanced nursing degree, and because of the harsh economic conditions – and 85 percent unemployment – most nurses who left didn’t return. But that is changing, thanks to a collaboration between the Rutgers College of Nursing and the Faculty of Nursing Science (FSIL) of the Episcopal University in Haiti, the first and only baccalaureate nursing program in that country.

The College of Nursing received financial support from the Haiti Nursing Foundation for a 10-month professional development program designed to both enhance the teaching knowledge and skills and improve the reading comprehension and writing skills of the FSIL faculty.

In a second phase of the project, FSIL will implement a master’s degree program in community health under the guidance of Rutgers College of Nursing faculty led by Elise Lev. The graduate nursing program, the first in the country, is aimed at keeping skilled nurses in Haiti, where they are desperately needed.  

“What we have created is a unique opportunity to help build the Haitian infrastructure,” said Lev, associate professor at the College of Nursing, who conceptualized and spearheaded the program. Last month Lev visited Haiti, accompanied by Gayle A. Pearson, assistant dean of the Center of Professional Development, and Joy McDonald, manager of information technology in the Rutgers-Newark Office of Academic Technology.

The purpose of the visit was to begin the on-site program to lay the foundation for the professional development component of the program.  

The FSIL’s master’s program will be modeled after the Rutgers graduate program and is the first to combine on-site and online nursing education learning, Lev said.

The Center for Professional Development program introduces students to online learning, giving students access to university faculty and support personnel. Four visits by faculty and continuous online interaction comprise the educational design.

During the first part of the program, students will complete a Certificate in Nursing Education, offered through the Rutgers Nursing Center for Professional Development under the direction of Pearson.  In part two, students will have the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in community health.

The Haiti Nursing Foundation is supporting the first part of the professional development course with a grant, part of Rutgers University’s $1 billion “Our Rutgers, Our Future” fundraising campaign, the most ambitious and comprehensive campaign in the university’s history.

The Haiti Nursing Foundation was established in 2005 to support the advancement of nursing in Haiti, especially through education.  The focus of this support has been on the FSIL nursing school in Leogane.

The shortage of nurses and nursing faculty in Haiti has a severe impact on the health and well-being of the Haitian population. Currently, no colleges or universities in Haiti offer graduate education programs in nursing and there are few mentors who can serve as role models for advanced practice nurses, or prepare them to provide baccalaureate nursing education.