Promoting Health in Haiti at the Physicians for Haiti Conference

Promoting Health in Haiti  attended “Leadership in Medical Education: Haiti 2013 and Beyond,” the third annual Physicians for Haiti Leadership Conference in Port au Prince on November 16, 2013. The conference included a rich variety of Haitian and international speakers, who presented on topics ranging from great leaders throughout world history to specific examples of innovative leaders within the Haitian health care context.

Pictured left: Carol Roye and Dean Hilda Alcindor, of FSIL (the school where the FNP program is conducted) with our poster at the Physicians for Haiti Conference.

Classes begin!

Graduate nursing studentsSeptember 26, 2013 marked a day of celebration celebration as the first classes began for the Promoting Health in Haiti’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program in Leogane, Haiti.

Carmelle Bellefleur PhD, RN, accompanied the first volunteer professor for the 30-month program. Nineteen Haitian nurses embarked on this educational journey to become family nurse practitioners – independently capable of diagnosing, treating, and caring for children and adults.

The PHH program is the first of its kind in Haiti. Modeled after the Hunter College School of Nursing’s Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs, this program has been designed to educate bachelor’s level nurses who will earn a Master’s degree, equivalent to US FNP education. At present, no educational pathway exists for nurses to advance their education. Working with Haiti’s Faculté des Sciences Infirmières in Léogâne of the Episcopal University of Haiti, faculty from the US will travel to Haiti for in-person education, augmented by online instruction. Each nurse will also complete 500 hours of clinical education in a hospital or clinic setting.

Nurses who complete the program will be nurse practitioners and will provide primary care to Haitians from infants to the elderly. With so few primary care physicians practicing in Haiti, most Haitians now receive care provided by nurses who have received inadequate training to deliver the care necessary. A nurse practitioner is educated to diagnose illnesses, conduct exams, and prescribe medication. These nurses can also serve as their patients’ sole health care provider and run their own practices. The PHH program will emphasize maternal and infant education in an effort to reduce the high rates of infant and maternal mortality inHaiti. The program will also teach students how to instill the concept of self-care for the most vulnerable populations.

Graduates of the PHH program will also be able to provide instruction to the next generation of nurses – thus creating a perpetuating and sustainable program. “Nurses are already delivering the care in Haiti,” remarked Carol Roye, EdD, RN, president of Promoting Health in Haiti. “Now they will have the education to provide high quality primary care.”

Join PHH on November 8th at the Adopt-A-Nurse-For-Haiti cocktail party and art sale benefit event. For every $5,000 raised, one more Nurse Practitioner can be educated.

Crisis in Haiti

Nurses are the backbone of Haiti’s health care system. They are often the only health care providers available and are required to act as primary care providers. If Haitians have access to care at all, their care provider is almost certainly a nurse.

However, the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti was particularly devastating for the profession of nursing. The nursing school in Port-au-Prince was leveled, killing students and faculty. Nursing students now attend class in makeshift tents.

Currently, in Haiti, nurses only receive a diploma education, even though they are often called upon to provide primary care, prenatal care and other complex levels of care.

It is generally agreed, by Haitians and foreigners who take care of patients in Haiti, that more than anything else, Haiti desperately needs highly trained nurses.

Promoting Health In Haiti was founded to provide support for Haitian schools of nursing. The organization’s goal is to create collaborations between North American and Haitian schools of nursing, in order to develop Bachelor’s level and

Master’s level nursing education; so that nurses will have the training they need to provide the complex care they are called on to deliver, in hospitals and in outpatient settings.

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