Future nursing leaders sharpen skills at McMaster

By Laura Thompson, August 26, 2009

    Seven male nurses, who graduated from Sultan Qaboos University in May, have been enrolled in an eight-week clinical course through McMaster's School of Nursing.
A group of Omani nursing graduates are poised to become leaders within their own country after gaining experience in critical care during a two-month clinical internship at McMaster University and its partner hospitals.

Seven male nurses, who graduated from Sultan Qaboos University in May, have been enrolled in an eight-week clinical course through McMaster's School of Nursing. The internship also includes clinical placements at several sites of Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

The visiting nurses arrived at McMaster in July and closing ceremonies of the nursing internship program will be held today at the University Club.

Participation in an international internship is a degree requirement for the Omani nurses, who are in only the third class to earn a nursing degree from their university. Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsula and borders the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Over the last three decades, the nation has seen tremendous growth in its health-care services.

"I'm hoping they are the future leaders of nursing in Oman," said Basanti Majumdar, a professor of nursing at McMaster University who was instrumental in organizing the internship. "I hope they will take home the concepts of leadership, ward management and collaboration and implement what they've learned in their own hospital."

Prior to arriving in Canada, the group faced several challenges in organizing their trip. The internship was nearly cancelled by their dean following the declaration of the H1N1 flu pandemic.

"Because we are the third batch to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, we will be responsible to improve the nursing in Oman," said Omar Ali Al-Zaabi, a 23-year-old nurse interested in intensive care. "We decided, together, to go to Canada to get experience. We knew our experience would be more than what we would get if we stayed in our home."

In addition to their clinical placements, the Omani nurses have gained exposure to hospices and palliative care wards, which do not exist in their country. They have also observed open-heart surgery and angioplasty, as well as learned through a self-directed, problem-based approach.

"Here, it's active learning - sharing ideas, listening to each other and discussing everything," said Mohammed Al-Abdul Salaam, a 23-year-old nurse with an interest in emergency and critical care.

Upon returning home, the Omani nurses will present about their experience abroad, which all agree has been positive.

Catherine Tompkins, associate dean, health sciences (nursing), said international partnerships are key to helping McMaster improve patient care and enhance the nursing profession around the world.

"It provides an opportunity for us to make contributions to countries that really want to develop nursing," she said. "It allows us to create an international community of nurses that share McMaster's philosophy around person-centred care and self-directed, problem-based learning."

The partnership between Sultan Qaboos University and McMaster University was established in 2008. Now in its second year, the program has evolved from observational learning to a clinical internship focused on developing skills in acute and clinical care in the context of the Canadian health-care system.