UIC College of Nursing Joins Rwanda Human Resources for Health Project

A group of nursing instructors from the University of Illinois at Chicago will spend the upcoming school year teaching off-campus — in Rwanda.

UIC is one of five U.S. nursing schools selected to participate in the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program, whose goal is to improve nursing and midwifery, health management, and medical education in the east African nation. The seven-member UIC contingent is expected to leave for Rwanda the first week of August for the 12-month mission.

Rwanda, a nation of 11.7 million people, is facing a severe shortage of highly qualified physicians, nurses, midwives and other health care workers, says Mi Ja Kim, executive director of the UIC College of Nursing’s Global Health Leadership office and project director of UIC’s Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program.

The Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program is believed to be the largest cooperative global health effort ever undertaken between universities in the developed and developing world, Kim said. In addition to the five nursing colleges, seven U.S. medical schools and one school of public health will also lend their assistance. The U.S. schools are expected to send nearly 100 faculty members annually for the next seven years.

The program aims to “position the country to sustain the improved health workforce on its own, without foreign aid,” according to the Rwandan Ministry of Health’s website.

Rwandan faculty and clinicians in teaching hospitals and university colleges of medicine, nursing and midwifery, and public health will work with their U.S. counterparts to strengthen and expand Rwanda’s health professional curriculum and capacity. A coordinated approach is intended to “upgrade medical and nursing professions in a comprehensive way, according to a national government plan,” according to the health ministry.

The UIC instructors will be teaching and mentoring Rwandan nurses and midwives in the five nursing schools located throughout the country. The UIC contingent includes four nurse educators serving as the partner to the dean, advisors to school directors, and as the professional standards advisor; as well as three nurse mentors in critical care, emergency/trauma care, and in midwifery.

The Rwandan Ministry of Health will coordinate the program, and control will remain with the Rwandan government. The Clinton Health Access Initiative, a global health organization founded by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, has led the efforts to coordinate the U.S. academic institutions.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

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