Exchange proves mutually beneficial
Six nurses from Pohnpei received certificates of completion today for an intensive 10-day training program at Guam Memorial Hospital under the University of Guam School of Nursing & Health Sciences.
“This was an amazing collaboration that will directly improve the quality of the FSM’s existing and upcoming health care workforce as well as the health of their people,” said Dr. Margaret Hattori-Uchima, dean of UOG’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences. “And when the islands of Micronesia are strong individually, our region is stronger as a whole.”
The training opportunity came about following the annual visit of the Guam/Micronesia Area Health Education Center to its sister office at the College of Micronesia-FSM in Pohnpei. The AHEC is a grant program that has been administered by UOG’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences the past nine years with the goal of improving the quality of health care in underserved communities by increasing the number and skills of health care workers.
Many of the health care workers in the Federated States of Micronesia have inadequate foundational training and are trained on-site by others working in the same position, according to a cancer control plan published by the FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs.
“It’s beneficial for our local nurses and nurse educators as well,” said Zennia Pecina, the director of Nursing at GMH. “GMH sees a lot of patients from other islands, and the exchange has been good training in terms of cultural sensitivity with matters of health care.”
Four nurses from Pohnpei State Hospital—one each from the labor and delivery, emergency room, surgical, and obstetrics and pediatrics departments—and two nursing educators from the associate in nursing and nursing assistant degree programs at the College of Micronesia arrived in Guam on July 1.
“The intent was that they needed to come to Guam with an idea of an improvement project at their hospital or school,” Hattori-Uchima said. “They did a great job. They all had really great ideas.”
School of Nursing faculty Dr. Kathryn Wood, Dr. James Finch, and Veronica Alave conducted a day of training and simulation exercises on health assessments, infection control, and delivering babies with limited resources. The participants were then assigned to appropriate units at GMH to shadow nurses on areas of specific interest, including triage, wound care, and infection control, and to learn how to use certain equipment, like an electrocardiogram.
“Training is really a strength of GMH nurses,” Pecina said. “Most of them are UOG graduates, so they were trained well. This partnership allowed them to use the same training techniques for the benefit of the region.”
The training opportunity was funded by the Charles H. Parent Scholarship through the UOG Endowment Foundation. The scholarship is intended to help students from Micronesia obtain bachelor’s degrees in nursing at UOG, although the scholarship has been underutilized by Micronesian nursing students, with just two students from Chuuk graduating in the past year.
“I approached the Endowment Board with a proposal for the scholarship funds that would honor what Parent would have wanted—he had a big heart for Micronesia,” Hattori-Uchima said. “They approved it the same day.”
Travel for the nurses was funded by the AHEC grant office in Pohnpei.
During a debriefing meeting at the conclusion of their training, the nurses shared how much they had learned and what they plan to implement back at their hospital.
“I learned more about patient bedside care, infection control, and new technologies they’re using,” said Wesihner John, an obstetrics and pediatrics nurse at Pohnpei State Hospital. “It’s about time for us to make changes in our hospital. What we learned here we can go back and use to improve patient care and the settings in our workplace.”
The UOG School of Nursing wants to extend this training to other islands in Micronesia next year. Yap and the Marshall Islands have expressed interest in training opportunities for their nurses and associate degree candidates.
“The Endowment Foundation has agreed if it goes well, we can ask for more funding next year,” Hattori-Uchima said. (PR)