The University of San Francisco: School of Nursing

The Bridge - USF School of Nursing Newsletter

 The Bridge - USF School of Nursing Newsletter

Summer 2009 - Vol IV Issue 1

School of Nursing Establishes Partnership with Vietnam Nursing School

The USF School of Nursing has established a partnership with the prestigious Bach Mai Nursing School in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Known as the Vietnam Nurse Project, the partnership has three primary goals, including promoting cultural sensitivity and awareness of the health care needs of Vietnamese patients, both in Vietnam and the Bay Area, which has a sizeable Vietnamese population. The program also aims to revise the curriculum at Bach Mai to reflect contemporary nursing care standards, particularly in the areas of maternal and neonatal health care, and provide assistance in using instructional methods that promote student engagement and interaction.

Bach Mai Nursing School

Inside a classroom at the Bach Mai Nursing School.

The project is directed by Greg Crow, adjunct instructor and member of the Dean’s Circle, and Greg DeBourgh, associate professor of nursing and chair of the adult health department.

The idea for a partnership began several years ago when Crow vacationed in Vietnam and decided to visit a nursing school. He ended up at Bach Mai, where he made a connection with Bach Mai’s director, who was interested in elevating the school’s level of curriculum to international standards, particularly those of the west.

Since that initial trip, Crow, project director, has visited several times, with DeBourgh making his first trip last November. These visits have included consultations with Bach Mai administrators and faculty as well as presentations to faculty and students on various topics such as care of surgical patients and infection control. During each of the two most recent visits, a USF graduate nursing student has accompanied the team, one of whom participated in a community health immersion experience and received academic credit.

DeBourgh, the project’s associate director and an expert in curriculum design and instruction, will focus on the curriculum portion of the project, which will work to incorporate a different style of teaching than is currently the norm in Vietnam. During their trips, both DeBourgh and Crow have observed that most teachers at Bach Mai do not make lesson plans or prepare many visual aids for their classes. Teachers often read directly from textbooks, occasionally writing on the blackboard. Additionally, most Vietnamese teaching methods involve lectures, readings, recitation, and repetitive drills, rather than a student-centered teaching approach.

In ongoing visits to Hanoi, DeBourgh will work with the Bach Mai faculty to implement instructional methods and technologies that promote student engagement, interaction, and a focus on developing critical thinking and reasoning. “I see the potential of the students and the faculty. The commitment is there,” he said.

Because of the way the Vietnamese health care system was designed and organized, there are distinct inequities in care, quality, and access. The hope is that by transforming the way nurses are educated and practice in Vietnam, nurses can then help transform the Vietnamese health care system so it is more socially just and equitable, especially in the areas of maternal, neonatal, and pediatric health.

Although some of the program’s plans, such as the long-term student exchange, are still a ways off, Crow and DeBourgh already have plans for the coming year.

For example, the Bach Mai Nursing School director will visit USF in September to observe instruction and organization of the School of Nursing, speak with students, faculty, and staff about the Vietnamese health care system and nursing education, and to meet with USF faculty about curriculum redesign ideas.

Crow and DeBourgh will travel to Bach Mai next January to support the ongoing partnership, working with the school’s faculty to redesign their curriculum and further plans for the integration of USF and Bach Mai student and faculty exchanges. Additionally, Helen Nguyen, a USF faculty member and doctoral student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, will also travel to Bach Mai in January 2010 to collect information for her DNP project on maternal and neonatal health care in Vietnam.
“Nurses in Vietnam, as in the U.S., when educationally prepared to provide care to the whole person, applying knowledge of theory, evidence-based best practices, competent clinical skills, and sensitivity to the health care needs of its underserved and vulnerable populations, can become effective advocates to promote access to patient-centered health care services.” Crow and DeBourgh wrote in an application for a USF Jesuit Foundation Grant.

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