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Gaining Global Insight

We live in an increasingly diverse and global community. At Duke University School of Nursing, we are committed to cultivating nurse leaders who are culturally sensitive and well educated to address health disparities worldwide. We strive to enhance the quality of life for people of all cultures and in all geographies through research, education and practice because we believe that nursing has a moral responsibility to provide high quality care for all human beings. Nurses also are responsible for helping to reduce health disparities by reaching out, locally and globally, to those who are most vulnerable.

We simply believe that high quality health care is a human right. Established in 2006, the Office of Global and Community Health Initiatives (OGACHI) serves as a catalyst of local, regional and international activities for the School of Nursing. It facilitates the development and implementation of collaborative partnerships and interdisciplinary linkages across Duke and beyond to improve health around the world. We target countries and populations with the poorest health indicators. We work in places where improving access to quality care, health prevention, health promotion, education and research has the potential to positively influence outcomes and truly make a difference.

“This trip was truly eye-opening, inspiring, motivating and humbling, and I am extremely grateful that I was able to take this journey.”

Study Abroad Experiences for Students

We believe that cultural immersion is an important pillar of global health. The Student Global Health and Cultural Immersion Experiences program offers BSN and graduate students a unique opportunity to gain experience and new perspectives in nursing care in vulnerable communities around the world. Our students spend two to four weeks working with community partners in clinics and other health care facilities in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Honduras, Nicaragua, China and Tanzania. The insights the students gain through these unique experiences shape their future careers and make them better health care providers and leaders.

Building a Sustainable Health System in Rwanda

Duke University School of Nursing is one of six top U.S. Schools of Nursing selected by the Rwandan Ministry of Health to participate in the Human Resources for Health Program. This seven-year program is designed to address Rwanda’s shortage of highly qualified physicians, nurses, midwives and other health care workers. The goal is to build the health education infrastructure and workforce necessary to create a high quality and sustainable health care system. Our nurse faculty help strengthen education, faculty development and professionalization by working directly with Rwandan educators and clinicians through year-long deployment in Rwanda. Currently we have five faculty members working in various roles and locations.

“City of Hope has been one of the most profound experiences of my nursing education.”

“It helped me see patient care in a different light. It showed me that there’s not one way to provide care, as long as the outcome is the same.”

Improving Anesthesia Care in Ghana

Duke University School of Nursing is leading efforts to fight the global anesthesia crisis in developing countries. About two billion people in the world have no access to surgical care, and many of them die of common conditions such as broken limbs or appendicitis. In the United States, there is approximately one anesthesia provider per 4,000 people; in some African countries, the ratio is one provider per one million people. To increase the number of anesthesia providers and improve the quality of care, Duke helped establish in 2012 a baccalaureate degree program for nurse anesthetists at Ghana’s University for Development Studies in Tamale. Now we are developing a distance learning program that will allow nurse anesthetists to continue working in their communities while pursuing the degree. Our faculty, graduate students and medical residents and fellows in the anesthesia residency program will travel to Ghana to train faculty and students.

“The current system in Ghana isn’t perpetuating the profession of nurse anesthetist very well. We hope this distance learning program will be another part of the solution.”

Improving Primary Health Care in Rural Communities in Tanzania

Duke University School of Nursing is developing a family nurse practitioner (FNP) program that will help rural communities in Tanzania. Like much of sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania suffers from a severe shortage of health care personnel and resources. Seventy percent of the population lives in rural areas with no access to physicians. We are working with our counterparts at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College in Moshi, Tanzania to prepare a curriculum, develop local faculty and begin training the first cohorts of family nurse practitioners. Faculty from the School of Nursing will help teach intensive classes in the new program, and students will have opportunities to travel to Tanzania and experience hands-on work in clinics. The program will prepare its graduates to manage the primary health care challenges of rural communities.

“The needs of the community in Tanzania are very different from the needs here. We’re not trying to bring an American nurse practitioner program to Africa. We’ll be tweaking it for the needs of Tanzania.”

Local Service Learning Experience

You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to find people in need. Many vulnerable and underserved populations live right here in Durham, N.C. Duke University School of Nursing students have the opportunity to work with the homeless and their families, refugees and immigrants and others living at high risk.

We work with our community partners at El Centro Hispano, Immaculate Conception Church and Church World Services to promote the health of the people they serve. We facilitate a Women’s Group sponsored by Church World Services for refugee women. This group promotes both the mental and psychological health of the participants through group learning and activities. The women not only have the chance to interact with other women in similar situations but also to receive information on how to care for the health of the entire family.

Every year we participate in the annual Latino Health Fair in Durham and provide screenings and health education about hypertension, diabetes, nutrition and healthy weights. Our students also provide health education and screenings based on identified needs by the parishioners at Immaculate Conception Church.

These experiences help our students increase their cultural sensitivity and teach them how to meet the challenges of health care delivery to vulnerable populations. Our students promote social justice and make a difference in their own community.

“They have a cultural experience that always opens their eyes. And they realize that nursing is profoundly different and uniquely the same all over the world.”

International Research Initiatives

Dementia has been called the next global epidemic. According to Alzheimer’s disease International, the number of people with dementia worldwide will triple by 2050. Our researchers study how people across the globe care for their family members with the disease. They document the formal and informal caregiving arrangement and needs of East Asian (Chinese) community-dwelling elders who experience cognitive or physical decline and compare these needs with South Asian (Sri Lankan) elders. This work will advance the understanding of the unique caregiving arrangements and needs of East and South Asian families with elders who suffer from dementia.

“Just because the US has a more formal system of caregiver training doesn’t mean that the West has the issue all figured out. Our goal is to find out how we can facilitate collaboration between the two countries as well as share our experiences and learn from those of caregivers in China.”