UABSON transforming nursing education through international partnerships

By Pareasa Rahimi

The UAB School of Nursing has been designated as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for International Nursing since 1993. Over the past 30 years there have been more than 20 collaborative agreements between the School and universities across 14 countries, providing valuable opportunities for educational collaboration and scholarship for both the partner institutions and the School.

Currently there are seven active agreements and partnerships with international universities with additional memorandums of understanding in progress as part of the terms of reference for the next four years as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre.

“The work of our Centre is supported and enhanced by establishing sustainable reciprocal partnerships with other higher education institutions around the world,” said Professor and Co-Director of the PAHO/WHOCC for International Nursing Adelais Markaki, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Those partnerships provide gateways for the School’s work to touch the lives of nurses, midwives and nurse educators everywhere and have a long-lasting impact.”

The collaborations also have led to the development of several training resources for nurses and nursing schools in the PAHO region, including the Educational Quality Improvement in Nursing and Midwifery Programs Toolkit, designed to help nursing schools assess their programs and determine the extent of which they are preparing their graduates to implement universal health coverage. With input from other WHO collaborating centres in Latin America and the Caribbean on content development and cultural adaptation, the School launched this free, asynchronous, distance-accessible course in November 2020 through a live webinar with PAHO and has continued to refine its content with partner input.

In 2022, the UAB WHOCC team piloted an English version of the toolkit with the University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, further strengthening an established partnership. Portuguese and Spanish versions of the toolkit are now being piloted in Brazil and Chile with partner institutions in those countries. Some members of the current pilot teams were previously connected with the School through its International Nurse Leadership Program, held between 2008 and 2012.

“It is rewarding to see Leadership Program participants who are now accomplished leaders in their countries,” said Dean, Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing and PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center Director Maria R. Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FNAP, FAAN. “Our leadership, education and research expertise shared through our PAHO/WHO activities helps our partner institutions impact health and health care in their countries. The reciprocal nature of these partnerships is incredibly valuable to our School, helping us make a positive, lasting impact on nursing and health care nationally and internationally.”

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