Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere and the nation with the highest rates of maternal, infant, and children under five mortality. In addition, the country has an acute shortage of nursing clinicians and educators.
In 2007, with Partners in Health’s and Zanmi Lasante's sponsorship and introductions to Haitian government officials and nursing leaders, Regis nursing leadership and faculty traveled to Haiti to assess nursing education needs and to identify innovative ways Regis could collaborate and assist. At the time, no Haitian government-sponsored graduate-level nursing program existed, creating a void for the advancement of nursing education to the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The Ministry of Health was working with the national schools of nursing to implement a 4-year baccalaureate program, consistent with the World Health Organization’s recommendations and research confirming that nurses prepared at the baccalaureate degree level or higher have significantly better patient care outcomes (Aiken, L. JAMA, September 26, 2003). Yet they lacked adequately prepared nursing faculty to teach this advanced program. Regis representatives, Ministry of Health leadership, and the nursing schools’ deans concluded an ‘educate the educator’ model designed to advance Haitian nurse faculty’s level of education was imperative to address this void, improve access to quality nursing care, and ultimately enhance Haitians’ health and well-being.
The Regis Haiti Project exists to improve patient care and health outcomes in Haiti by providing a highly targeted, international development initiative centered on improved nursing education, leadership and credentialing. The project contributes to an expansive trajectory harnessing the impact of higher education for nurses in Haiti, leading to the institutionalization of baccalaureate and master's level nursing education and, in turn, to improved patient care into the future.
Supported by grant awards from the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and private donors, the Regis Haiti Project has now graduated 37 nursing faculty with a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on leadership.
Today, the project continues to work with partners and alumni to establish an alumni association focused on further advancing the nursing profession in Haiti with on-the-ground partnerships and graduates from the program.