Early in 1992, nursing emerged as a key issue throughout the NIS and CEE countries. Cognizant of the need to tackle nursing issues within the context of a partnership model, US nurse leaders developed Nursing Task Forces to meet the challenges of nurses at an institutional level and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and lessons learned. The Task Forces were the driving force behind the nursing agenda with a focus on three areas: education, practice, and leadership. In this post, we address education.
A series of conferences in-country focused on education and curriculum reforms. Local Nursing Resource Centers provided nursing faculty, students, and practitioners with alternative forms of learning. Each site was equipped with computers, textbooks, videotapes, anatomical models, and educational posters addressing clinical, managerial and psychosocial aspects of health care. The Centers have encouraged independent learning and enhanced traditional teaching methodologies. Nurses attest to the impact of the nursing initiative and the NRC on their profession.
Basic nursing education in the NIS/CEE has traditionally been viewed as vocational training, rather than university-based. With a faculty comprised primarily of physician-nurse educators, a move toward development of a cadre of nurse faculty evolved. The natural starting point was the creation of a baccalaureate-level model. Traditionally, baccalaureate and advanced practice nursing were not available in all countries. Nursing education has now expanded from a two-year program to advanced clinical and management training. Four-year baccalaureate nursing programs and continuous learning have become commonplace; such programs include skill laboratories, post-graduate training and the extensive use of the resource centers, thanks to AIHA.
International nursing conferences have extended the learning process and NIS/CEE nurses attended the International Council of Nurses meetings in London and Copenhagen. Truly, second-generation leaders have evolved.
As I reflect back on how far we’ve come, and the model nurse leaders we’ve mentored, I appreciate the volunteer efforts of my own colleagues, the commitment to the profession of our mentees, and the evolution of nurse leadership in the NIS and CEE countries. Kudos to all who contributed time, talent, and resources- you have created change over the past twenty-six years and you should be proud!
*Cover photo by Barry Kinsella