Don’t overlook opportunities that look like just another meeting.
When the authors first met, they had no idea their chance meeting would lead to long-term international collaboration. Part 3 of a three-part global nursing miniseries.
Successful nursing is, in large part, based on relationships—with patients and families, healthcare team members, and colleagues. These relationships, in turn, can lead to national and international networks that are created either intentionally or spontaneously. In the following paragraphs, we share two examples of how partnerships among organizations, healthcare facilities, and nurses and other healthcare professionals from the United States and other parts of the world have resulted in improved global health.
From tragedy to partnership
On 7 December 1988, an earthquake that struck Armenia killed more than 25,000 people and injured more than 16,000. Many countries and organizations came to the aid of Armenia, including the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), a global organization based in the United States. Between 1989 and 1990, AGBU transported 62 earthquake patients to the U.S. for specialized plastic and reconstructive surgery, a discipline not fully developed in Armenia at that time.
Because so many earthquake victims required this type of care, AGBU staff realized the organization needed to transport that specialized care back to Armenia. To do so, they arranged for a specially selected team of Armenian nurses, physicians, and biomedical personnel to come to Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, for specialty education. Shortly after the Armenian group returned home, a U.S. healthcare team joined them.
AGBU and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $2 million for equipment and supplies to set up the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center (PRSC) in Yerevan, Armenia. This state-of-the-art equipment was used to establish two operating rooms, a six-bed intensive care unit, and a 20-bed surgical floor in the Mikaelyan Surgical Institute. The goals were to provide Western treatment, including scar releases and tendon and nerve grafts, for patients with post-earthquake wounds and congenital abnormalities.
Weinstein: When George Washington University Hospital (GWUH) and its affiliate, Premier, asked me to locate the American nurse who had traveled to Armenia—with whom they had lost contact—I agreed. And when the chief nursing officer at GWUH asked Marianne Hess to begin a six-month assignment, she agreed.
Hess: We wish readers could have been in Yerevan in December of 1993 when we first met and began our nearly 25 years of collaborative partnership. When the two of us came to the table in Yerevan on behalf of GWUH and Premier, we were not familiar with that country, but our chance meeting was the beginning of a “partnering for success” story.
Weinstein: Marianne, recognizing the opportunity of a lifetime, was ready to take action. As director of Premier’s Office of International Affairs, I recognized the opportunity to build capacity through education, practice, and process. Together with our Armenian partners, we facilitated change. Marianne stayed in Yerevan for two full years, and the life-changing experience fueled a passion for global nursing and healthcare that continues to this day. In the process, she touched many lives. Her critical care and educator background made her an ideal partner for creating a development program in a challenged country.
Hess: After my experience in Yerevan, I joined two Moscow-based collaborations that Sharon facilitated at the Medical Center of the President of the Russian Federation and All-Russian Children’s Hospital.
Today, though separated by miles and mountains, we sustain a collaborative relationship. As directors of the Global Education Development Institute (GEDI), we continue to affect nursing’s future, both at home and abroad. Joined by our fellow board members, we continue to prepare global healthcare leaders for the future. Together, we are:
- Expanding partnerships with other professional societies as well as healthcare and educational organizations
- Enriching our leadership initiatives
- Advocating and influencing systems of care
- Connecting healthcare leaders worldwide RNL
Click here to access “Global nursing, Part 1: Listen, learn, act.”
Click here to access “Global nursing, Part 2: From contacts to collaborators.”
Sharon M. Weinstein, MS, CRNI-R, RN, FACW, FAAN, CSP, is one of 22 nurses worldwide with the certified speaking professional credential. Weinstein is president and founder of the Global Education Development Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes nurse development around the world, and president of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the National Speakers Association. She is the author of B is for Balance: 12 Steps Toward a More Balanced Life at Home and at Work, published by Sigma Publishing.
Marianne E. Hess, MSN, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, an acute care educator with expertise in critical care, is an adjunct clinical instructor at a major university school of nursing located in Washington, D.C. Translating theory into global practice, Hess speaks at national and international conferences, utilizing evidence-based information as the foundation for her presentations and promoting critical thinking.