Nurses without borders


Ten nursing graduates from Oman are expanded their international experience at McMaster University. The visiting group, which arrived from the Middle East in August, spent two months experiencing McMaster’s signature approach to the integration of academic concepts and clinical nursing practice. They also observed Canadian nursing practice at various hospital sites of Hamilton Health Sciences and other health institutions.

The program marks the beginning of a new partnership between the School of Nursing, Hamilton Health Sciences and the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman. “To me it’s a beautiful way to mutually explore each other’s strengths,” says Basanti Majumdar, the School of Nursing professor who organized the program.

The visiting nurses, all women, graduated in May from Sultan Qaboos University with a BScN, the second class of the university to do so. As a requirement of their degree, they have to complete a two-month internship abroad. “This is a wonderful opportunity to come to visit Canada and to know about the community here, the people here and know the nursing here,” says Widad Al-Zakwani, a 23-year-old nurse who has an interest in critical care.

The Omani nurses are engaged primarily in acute and critical care settings, with some exposure to palliative, rehabilitation and geriatric settings. Due to Ontario practice regulations, they are learning through observation. “Even when we see a patient, we learn so much,” Majumdar says, explaining that touch, communication and a watchful eye are critical to nursing.

Oman is located in southwest Asia and borders the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. A small country of about three million, there were no more than 100 people employed in the health sector before 1970, according to the country’s Ministry of Information.

Over the last three decades, Oman has seen tremendous growth in its health-care services, establishing state-of-the-art facilities around the country. As of 2003, more than 18,500 people were employed by the Ministry of Health.

Majumdar says she hopes to further build the partnership with Sultan Qaboos University. The Omani nurses are interested in establishing a reciprocal exchange program between the two universities.

As ambassadors of their profession, the Omani nurses intend to take what they’ve learned in Canada back with them to Oman. “I feel that I can get something from here and take it to my country to improve nursing there,” says Rawya Al-Muqbali, one of the nurses who took part in the program.