We arrived in Kampala, Uganda after a brief flight from Kigali, Rwanda on Saturday.
While there, I was able to meet with Dr. Sara Groves, a Hopkins School of Nursing faculty member. Sara is based in Uganda and is serving in the role of liaison between Hopkins and Makerere University for the Gates Learning Grant. As well as being the liaison for this multi-disciplinary (Hopkins schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing) and multi-component project, Sara is working very closely with the faculty of the Makerere University Department of Nursing. In her role, she is providing mentorship and guidance to young and developing faculty in several areas. But let me give an example of one specific focus area developing research infrastructure and evidence-based programs. The faculty of the Department of Nursing identified an area of research interest and focus for their department–malnutrition in young children in rural villages. As well as identifying an important research area, the faculty identified a potential funding opportunity for their collaborative research. They invited Sara to meet with them to discuss the research opportunity. In her role, she creates the environment through encouragement and expertise for the faculty to openly discuss their research ideas, including research design, methods, analysis and dissemination of findings. She works with them to develop the timeline for submitting the proposal, the budget, and the resource support that is needed and that is already available. For example, she encouraged the faculty to consider leveraging existing resources to complete the research, such as undergraduate public health nursing students to assist in data collection and analysis in the rural areas where they are participating in clinical learning.
It was exciting to sit with the Department of Nursing faculty and listen to their discussion on how to improve the health of Ugandan children and families, and the role of nursing research in developing evidence-based health programs. I think this example illustrates the importance of collaboration, mentorship and support for our nursing colleagues who are taking on challenging and complex health issues with great passion but with limited resources.