A Trip Abroad

BangladeshOutsideA year ago I travelled to Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, to participate in a project focused on improving the quality of nursing education in the country. The overall goal of this long-term project is to improve the health human resources in Bangladesh and in turn the health of the population. Bangladesh has an extremely low nurse to patient ratio (for every 10,000 patients there are 2 nurses). While the health-care system is in dire need of nurses, it is important for these nurses to be prepared to work to their full scope of practice. CASN has been supporting the development of competencies and an accreditation system to ensure the quality of education.
Over the course of the past year Bangladesh has received international media attention on several occasions: factory fires and building collapses, political violence and economic instability, and democracy and the national election. Needless to say, I feared that much of the project’s progress I had seen on my last visit to Bangladesh might have been lost. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the periods of turmoil brought on by the election year, the project kept its momentum.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the differences between Bangladesh and Canada – the food, the language barrier, the traffic – to name a few! Despite the differences in the environment, I found myself thinking that nurses are truly global professionals: In the Dhaka hospitals I saw nurses work closely and carefully with patients and their families, no matter how busy they are. Nursing students are bright eyed and eager to learn from their clinical instructors. In a meeting of the Competency Group, where key stakeholders worked to finalize the entry-to-practice competencies, I heard cries about the importance of nursing research, pleas for the need to ensure new nurses are prepared with leadership skills, and laments about the undervaluing of nurses by other health professionals.
CASN is part of the Global Alliance for Leadership in Nursing Education and Sciences (GANES), an international organization of heads of nursing schools.  Working in Bangladesh allows me to see the opportunities and challenges in nurse education on a global scale, and reminds me of the importance of fostering the global voice of nurse educators. I come away from this trip with a renewed energy for GANES and for the global profession of nursing.

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Cynthia Baker, RN, PhD.
Executive Director, CASN