“Member Spotlight” is a new series in which GHDonline highlights work by members engaged in the communities. Nursing Community Moderator Sheila Davis agreed to start it off. Sheila is a nurse practitioner and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. In October 2010, she became the Global Nursing Coordinator at Partners in Health in Boston, Mass.
Sheila answered a few questions below and is pleased to answer further questions from the community so ask away! If you are interested in participating in a future spotlight, please email .
1. What does your role as Global Nursing Coordinator for Partners in Health entail?
Being a new position for PIH, this is an evolving role that is both exciting and challenging. Currently, in collaboration with my PIH colleagues, I am developing and coordinating programs to increase nursing capacity at PIH sites. Nursing is an integral part of our clinical programs, and PIH is committed to supporting nursing by focusing on improving education and specialty training to enable our nursing colleagues to deliver good care. Highlighting the critical role of nursing in quality care delivery and identifying nursing leaders at all of our sites are two of my main priorities.
2. Can you describe a couple of projects you’re working on?
PIH works in partnership with Ministry of Health (MOH) leaders at all of our sites to support and strengthen the public health sector. In Haiti, I am very excited to be working with MOH nursing leaders in advancing their comprehensive strategy for nursing. PIH hosted a meeting in March in Boston to encourage collaboration between Haitian nursing leaders and nursing leaders from the Boston academic and medical center communities. We were honored to have Irma Bois, Director of Nursing for the MSPP (MOH), present the Haitian delegation’s vision for nursing in Haiti. We will be moving forward on goals within the overall strategy in areas of Practice, Education, and Leadership, and the group committed to working within the public sector under the leadership of Irma Bois as a priority.
The Clinical Nurse Educator model began at one site in Rwanda and will be starting in Haiti this year. It is critical that we enhance in-country nursing expertise and support the development of local nurse experts. I have been working to develop partnerships with academic medical centers to provide PIH with ongoing access to nursing experts for clinical mentorship and advanced education in specialty areas. PIH has successful physician models of academic medical center collaboration; the challenge is to adapt that model for nursing.
3. What philosophy(ies) ground your work in global health?
The nursing profession has strong historical roots in social justice and a commitment to the underserved. As a nursing student in Boston in the mid- 1980s, I became involved in the HIV/AIDS field after witnessing the horrors of HIV and the stigma that fueled unjust and inhumane treatment of patients by the medical community. The HIV/AIDS community was a rich place to learn that health care cannot be separated from societal factors and social determinants, including poverty, education, and access to basic needs. I was very fortunate to be part of the inaugural class of Carl Wilkens Fellows at the Genocide Intervention Network in 2009. Carl Wilkens, one of the only US citizens to remain in Rwanda during the genocide, articulates the danger of viewing people as “other.” Not viewing ourselves as the same as other people is what allows atrocities to occur. Viewing this concept via a global health lens makes the current state of sub-standard health care for so many in the world intolerable. Health as a basic human right is critical and needs to be the basis for all of our work globally.
4. You often make a distinction between “task shifting” and “task sharing.” What do you mean by that?
I make this distinction because ‘sharing” implies accountability with the health provider team as a whole. As we look to provide health care to more people globally and embrace a more inclusive health care team, it is critical that quality remain at the core. PIH has a rich history of Community Health Workers providing excellent care in Haiti, Peru, and Boston — incorporated into the success of this model is ongoing involvement of nurses, doctors, and other health professionals to support the community health workers. I think this is important to view both ways, nurses and doctors are often not the experts on the community, and it would be inappropriate for me to go into a village to provide nursing care without input and oversight from the local community health worker. We can “shift” tasks from one member of the team to another, but we all “share” the responsibility that a person receives quality care.
5. Can you describe ways that GHDonline could be a useful tool to foster knowledge sharing and improve global health delivery?
GHDonline is an invaluable tool for the sharing of expertise among health care providers globally. The value and respect for all health care provider’s expertise regardless of whether they are from resource-limited or resource-rich settings, fosters an exchange of knowledge that benefits all. The multi-directional nature of the discussions in the communities is rich, and members contribute from their lived experiences, representing very different viewpoints. In addition to continuing to learn from many global nursing colleagues, I have found the GHDonline community to be a very good resource on topics in global health that are not necessarily my area of expertise. It has become a “go to” place to quickly get an overview of topics from a diverse group of providers.
6. Are there any roadblocks or questions you’ve faced recently in your work that this community of 760 people from 81 countries could help you answer or overcome?
I love this question as it really gets to the heart of the how a community like GHDonline is invaluable. One of the major challenges I continue to struggle with is how to give nursing more of a voice in global health. Nurses are an integral part of health care in villages, health centers, hospitals, governments, NGOs, academia, the for-profit sector, and faith based communities — but often we are not seen as global health leaders. There are exceptions and amazing, effective nurse leaders who are positively impacting global health care, but often these leaders are not visible. When we think of global leaders in other disciplines, many names come to mind, but nurse champions in global health are invisible. Identifying, highlighting, and promoting global nursing leaders are shared responsibilities for all of the global community. It is time that we find our voice.