By Laura Lesley
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing graduates Wipada Kunaviktikul, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Thanee Kaewthummanukul, PhD, RN, have been named faculty at Chiang Mai University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Kunaviktikul has been reappointed to her fourth four-year term as dean, and Kaewthummanukul will serve as associate dean for research, innovation and academic services.
Kunaviktikul earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) from the UAB School of Nursing in 1994, and Kaewthummanukul earned his Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and PhD in 2000 and 2003, respectively. They are among the 12 UAB School of Nursing graduates currently known to reside in Thailand.
“The field of nursing education and administration, especially on the doctoral level and with regard to research, was still quite young in Thailand compared to other parts of the world,” Kunaviktikul explained. “This is why many Thai faculty members, like myself, pursued education abroad so we could learn the latest nursing theories, concepts, management and leadership, as well as different teaching and learning styles.”
The UAB School of Nursing has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Chiang Mai University that has evolved over more than 20 years. Spearheaded by then-UAB President Charles A. “Scotty” McCallum, Jr., DMD, MD, and former School of Nursing Dean Rachel Z. Booth, PhD, this partnership has resulted in several collaborative research efforts and conferences, as well as numerous faculty members from Chiang Mai being hired by the UAB School of Nursing over the years.
“Several of our faculty members received their doctoral degrees at UAB, and many others their post-master’s and post-doctoral training,” Kunaviktikul said. “UAB has been so welcoming and nurturing to our faculty members and has played a vital role in the development and capacity building of our Faculty of Nursing.”
Kunaviktikul is still moved when remembering her positive experience at the UAB School of Nursing.
“I remember the warmth and hospitality with which I was met. Everyone was so very kind and took such good care of me,” she said. “President McCallum, Dean Booth and so many others went to great lengths to involve foreign students in activities to allow us to learn about American culture and to make us feel truly welcome at UAB.”
During her next four-year term, Kunaviktikul hopes to use IT-driven strategies to strengthen Chiang Mai’s ties to UAB, particularly in distance learning to foster collaborative research and education opportunities for both schools.
“As Chiang Mai University is a research-oriented university, with around 80 percent of faculty members conducting ongoing research, it seems that research collaboration between our two schools would be a natural fit,” she said.
Kunaviktikul, who in 2010 was named one of the School’s 60 “Visionary Leaders,” is a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery director, credits her time at the UAB School of Nursing as a PhD student with making a lasting impression on her life and career.
“To this day, I still rely on the international professional network developed by my companionship with other foreign students, as well as faculty at UAB,” she said.
Alumni leading nursing education in Thailand
Kunaviktikul reappointed as dean, Kaewthummanukul to serve as an associate dean of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Nursing