The University of Maryland School of Nursing's (UMSON) Office of Global Health recently hosted a group of nurses from several countries where levels of HIV/AIDs remain among the world's most burdensome. The six nurses traveled to Baltimore as part of the International Nurse Exchange Program (INEP).
The goals of the INEP are to improve skills in the care and management of HIV patients across the continuum of care, to enhance abilities as nurse educators, and to assist in developing an area of nursing scholarship of interest to each participant.
The Office of Global Health, in collaboration with the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, brought the nurses to Baltimore to observe state-of-the-art care delivery at HIV clinics associated with the University.
"The nurses were able to acquire valuable lessons and ideas that will add value to the education and training projects and patient services provided by the AIDSRelief programs in their respective countries," says Jeffrey Johnson, PhD, professor and director of the UMSON Office of Global Health.
Their two-week training session built on the success of previous INEP programs yet differed in several ways. One is that the cohort was made up of participants from five different countries, four of them in Africa. The diversity contributes to more cross-country sharing of experiences, not simply comparison to observed U.S. health care approaches. Past groups of nurses have come from a single nation, Nigeria.
In another program enhancement, nurses identified scholarly projects in which they wanted mentorship in research design evaluation and clinical case study development. In the course of sharing their projects with mentors, the nurses decided to work collaboratively on most projects to replicate and adjust to their respective settings. Overall, their projects address HIV and maternal/child health issues and improving nurses' work and patients' care experiences.
The five nurses from Africa who participated in the training are Dorcas Phiri, MPH, RN/RM, senior nurse technical advisor, and Linah Kampilimba Mwango, nurse educator, both from Zambia; Beatrice Kakiiza, BSN, senior nurse educator, Uganda; Joyce Mwendwa, BSN, senior nurse educator, Tanzania; and Ifeoma Gift Uche, nurse educator, Nigeria. A sixth participant, Shavon Moses, is a nurse educator from Guyana, a nation on the northern coast of South America.
Although the social and clinical settings in the U.S. are different from what is obtainable in Sub-Saharan African countries and in the Caribbean, the INEP experience in Baltimore strives to inspire and strengthen participants' mentorship and advocacy skills as key clinical and community leaders.
The visiting nurses were given opportunities to interact with UMSON students and faculty to share their personal experiences as global health nurses in HIV care. UMSON faculty members assisted the INEP nurses in advancing their scholarly projects.
The program provides an opportunity to witness high quality care for HIV patients and their families, and to then develop professional strategies for what is feasible and possible in the participant's home country.
The nurses were organized in small teams to observe care at University of Maryland-affiliated clinics including the Maryland Women's Center, which serves pregnant women who are HIV positive; at the Evelyn Jordan Center, a setting for adult ambulatory HIV care; and at the JACQUES Initiative, a program that offers adults who have difficulty managing their HIV medications the option of direct observation therapy.
"Ultimately, we hope the collective activities and lessons learned will enhance their individual nursing capacity and professional development, as well as cultivate future collaboration between the Office of Global Health and nurse educators in the field," said Johnson.