Haiti is both the poorest nation and the nation with the highest rates of maternal, and under age 5 and infant mortality in the Western Hemisphere. The adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Haiti is 2.1% compared with a .6% rate in the United States. The acute shortage of nursing clinicians and educators (11 nurses to 100,000 Haitians compared to 860 nurses for 100,000 Americans) further demonstrates the need.
With Partners in Health’s sponsorship and introductions to Haitian government officials and nursing leaders, in 2007 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 (e.g., 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 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 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 is continuing to work with partners and alumni and is establishing an alumni association to focus on continuing the important work of advancing the nursing profession further in the country with on-the-ground partnerships and graduates from the program.