Clinical Assistant Professors Lynn Blackburn and Karen Lasater laid the groundwork for a partnership between the UT College of Nursing and nurses in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Supported by the college and the Knoxville Rotary, Blackburn and Lasater traveled to Zimbabwe earlier this year to begin the collaborative relationship between UT’s College of Nursing and St. Philip’s School and the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe.
“The College of Nursing wants to establish a long-term working relationship with Zimbabwe health care workers—to improve the health status of Zimbabwe residents, set up potential clinical sites for our nursing students, and identify potential research projects focusing on improving the health of Zimbabwe,” Lasater said.
Lasater helped establish the school’s nursing library and trained local nurses in the HINARI system, a computer program set up by the World Health Organization to give third world health care providers free access to the latest health literature and research.
Blackburn taught continuing education classes for practicing midwives at St. Philip’s and several midwifery classes at the medical school. Additionally, faculty from the College of Nursing participated in educational offerings through distance-based technologies.
Blackburn said she valued interacting with the nurses in Zimbabwe and working “through another cultural lens” during her two weeks abroad.
“Trips of this kind enhance my cultural competency, and make me a better role model and professor for my students,” she said.
Additionally, the two professors assisted in teaching a two-day breast health lecture with Jenny Edge, the South African physician who developed the program.
“The health issues in Zimbabwe are significant,” explained Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing. “With education, nurses can play a vital role in improving the health and health care in communities”
Blackburn and Lasater agreed that the nearly 9,000-mile trip was a great experience. Lasater looks forward to returning and is “very eager to learn and collaborate with UT in the future to improve health in Zimbabwe.”
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)