July 25, 2011
A New Future for Nursing in Haiti


When the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2011, it shattered much of Haiti’s national teaching hospital, including the nursing school, burying 100 students and faculty within it.  This devastating loss when Haiti needed her healers most compounded Haiti’s preexisting weaknesses in training health professionals.  The deficits were not due to a lack of talent, but rather “a lack of funding and the imposition of a fee-for-service model in a country where the majority of people… didn’t have money,” according to Dr. Paul Farmer in his new book Haiti:  After the Earthquake (p. 9). 


Now, under the joint vision and execution of Regis College in Weston, MA and Partners in Health in Boston, a cadre of nursing faculty are receiving first-class training, which they will transfer to their colleagues and students in Haiti.  The Ansara Family Fund is proud to support this program, profiled in yesterday’s Boston Globe by Neena Satija, with excerpts below.


“Twelve nursing teachers from Haiti (are) spending part of the summer at Regis for a crash course in American nursing, gaining expertise they will then pass on to a new generation of nurses back home.  Nurses and administrators from Regis College and Boston-based Partners in Health, which are collaborating on the training project, conceived it years ago. But the program gained urgency after an earthquake last year destroyed the national nursing school in Port-au-Prince, killing nearly 100 students and faculty…


“Even before the earthquake, Haiti had too few nurses and nursing teachers. Mirmonde Amazan, a pediatric nurse and instructor at the National School of Nursing in Les Cayes, on the southwestern tip of Haiti, divides her time between a teaching schedule and a clinical supervision schedule. That means she often has to leave students at the hospital on their own while she teaches a class.


“The Regis program aims to change that. The course the nurses are taking this summer, in combination with online and other classes they will have once they return to Haiti, will allow them to earn master’s degrees from the University of Haiti and become nurse practitioners.


“Such a level of education for nurses is ‘unheard of in Haiti,’ said Regis president Toni Hays, who 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, she said. ‘But this is the beginning of a movement.’


“Two summers from now, once the 12 women have earned their degrees, they will return to Regis to teach the next cohort of students…


“In a state with strong ties to Haiti – Massachusetts has the third-highest population of Haitians in this country, and hundreds of medical staff and volunteers from here participated in relief efforts after the earthquake – the Regis program has had no lack of volunteers.”


For the full article with interviews of the nurses see