WESTON — Nursing education in Haiti often consists of textbook lessons and exams, but little direct training in real-life hospital situations.
This month, however, at Regis College, nine faculty members from schools and hospitals under the Haitian Ministry of Health have been the school’s first to receive 10 days of training with hands-on practice in clinical simulations that they will be able to incorporate into their teaching back at home.
Their training has involved acting out realistic hospital crises, such as caring for a patient with a spiking temperature while simultaneously calming down a relative, or healing an open wound using real equipment. These immersive scenarios were created with manikins, some with fake wounds, and other props.
“This type of training will help us to raise the level of education in nursing care in Haiti,” said Claudinette Favard, a nurse educator at the University Hospital of Mirebalais, outside of the capital, Port-au-Prince. “The students will then graduate with a better standard of education, and this will have a great impact on the population that we are caring for.”
This effort is part of a longstanding partnership between Regis College, Haiti’s Ministry of Health, and Partners in Health, a Boston nonprofit aiming to improve health care in impoverished countries, said Antoinette Hays, president of Regis and former dean of the school of nursing, science, and health sciences.
Regis’ relationship with the Haitian ministry dates to 2007, Hayes said, when they invited her to visit the country, which has limited medical resources, to assess the nation’s needs in nursing education.
Alongside Paul Farmer, the late founder of Partners in Health, and officials from the Haitian ministry, Regis created a program that so far has educated 36 nurses and granted them master’s degrees in nursing, leadership, and education from the University of Haiti.
Now, the goal is to elevate Haitian nursing educators by adding more in-depth clinical simulations to their arsenal.
Since arriving at the Weston college on July 6, Natacha Fresnel Mainsou, the head of nursing education and continuing education for Haiti’s Ministry of Health, said one of the most valuable lessons she learned was the importance of providing feedback to students.
While Haitian nurses might have some experience practicing minor nursing duties like taking a patient’s blood pressure, the Regis training develops skills with longer and multi-faceted scenarios.
At the end of a session, the Haitian nursing educators receive feedback from Regis faculty about areas where they can improve their performance.
Mainsou said Haitian faculty don’t often provide feedback to students. But after Mainsou saw how instructor feedback fostered growth and improvement for her, she hopes to make it standard practice in Haitian nursing schools.
Other nurses participating in the training agreed that they are learning skills that will elevate the quality of nursing education in their country.
Djerline Clerge Constant, an educator at Haiti’s National School of Nursing in Les Cayes, emphasized the importance of placing nursing students in realistic scenarios.
“When the students are learning with this method of simulation, it help these students to better learn, retain, and then practice what they learned,” Constant said.
Through a grant provided by the Wagner Foundation, Regis College is giving resources and equipment to the Haitian nursing faculty so they can create better simulations in their own classrooms.
Donna Barry, an assistant professor of nursing and the director of global nursing at Regis, said the college’s simulation labs have given the Haitian faculty a method of teaching that will push their students to improve their clinical reasoning and emotional intelligence to “move beyond the textbook solution.”
“A simulation also really teaches interaction and engagement with people, not just textbook learning that ‘This is a disease; this is how we treat it,’” Barry explained.
As a nursing educator for two decades, Constant said she recognizes that there’s always room to improve and grow in the industry. Along with Mainsou and Favard, Constant said she’s grateful for the opportunity to expand her skillset and bring her knowledge back to Haiti.
“You always have an opportunity to learn new stuff so that you can get better and improve,” she said. “I’ve learned a better approach in teaching because of the way [Regis has] been teaching us.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Claudinette Favard’s name.