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Current IUBAT Faculty and Former Student Awarded with Scholarship

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Mohammad (Kiron) Ali is currently a faculty member at IUBAT, teaching students at the very same school where he learned to become a nurse himself.  When asked how he came into nursing and about his future vocational goals, Ali shares some wonderful news with our readers.  He writes:

“Greetings from Bangladesh! I am very sorry for the late reply, as you can imagine how busy we are during the semester end at IUBAT.  I came into nursing in 2007, a couple of months after successfully finishing the Higher School Certificate examination.  The decision I made to study nursing was against my family’s wishes.  Historically, nursing is locally viewed as a poor profession and dirty job.  Consequently, I faced discrimination and criticism from my family, friends, and neighbours.  In my youth, I had never dreamed of becoming a nurse, nor did I know what nursing truly entailed.  While I was studying in higher secondary school, I had a growing interest to enter the medical profession.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to talk with Prof. Dr. Karen Lund, former Chair, College of Nursing at IUBAT.  She gave me full insight and knowledge about the nursing profession, and I applied for admission that same day.

Presently, I am working very hard for the residency permit (RP), which takes a lot of paperwork.  I’m happy to share the news to all of my well-wishers, nationally and internationally, after getting RP, and a scholarship!  I have been accepted to the Master’s of International Health program at Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden.  The program will last two years and begins on August 29th, 2016.  Furthermore, the scholarship I have been awarded is called the Swedish Institute Study Scholarship (SISS), bestowed upon me by the Swedish Institute, a public agency whose commitment is to gain knowledge and understanding of different cultures, their people, and to promote Sweden and Swedish issues globally.   Here is more information about the scholarship and the Swedish Institute: SISS – Application procedure and key dates: Swedish Institute.

For my accomplishments in my career thus far, I would like to thank three special people in my life.  Prof. Dr. M Alimullan Miyan, Vice Chancellor of IUBAT, for giving me the opportunity to study at this university under the umbrella of the Knowledge-Based Area Development program (KBAD).  Secondly, Prof. Dr. Karen Lund has been the biggest motivator in my life.  Finally, Prof. Alex Berland, Senior International Adviser of College of Nursing, who has been my mentor.  I will continue writing with follow-ups and updates.  I deeply acknowledge the efforts of all those I mentioned and hope for a continued strong Bangla-Canadian relationship.”

We’re grateful for the update and even happier to hear the great news, Kiron.  All the best to you at the end of a busy semester of instruction, and for your two-year Master’s program in Uppsala!  Perhaps we will hear more about your international adventures further into your career.

Volunteer Faculty Discusses her Unique Role with Project

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A recent volunteer, Roslyn Coltheart, answered some questions to allow us to share her experiences as a visitor to Bangladesh and a staff mentor at IUBAT.  Roslyn held a unique volunteer position as she was not an instructor to the nursing students, but rather, a mentor to new permanent faculty at IUBAT.  She is pictured above with faculty members and students at the 71st orientation program for new students (“Fresher”), for spring semester.  In the picture from left to right: Faisal (nursing student), Roslyn, Tutal (IUBAT graduate and now faculty), Khadizia (IUBAT faculty, graduate of armed forces medical college and the first non-IUBAT trained staff), Tahamina (IUBAT graduate and now faculty), Tithi (nursing student), Shoykit (nursing student), Shuvashish (IUBAT graduate and now faculty), and Elma (nursing student).

What were your roles/responsibilities in Bangladesh and when did you become involved with the Bangladesh Health Project?

“I first came across the Bangladesh Health Project in 2013, when I read an article in the American Journal of Nursing. At the time, I had just moved from Australia to Canada but filed the information away for future reference. In early 2015, I applied to volunteer with the Project. Initially hopeful to be there for the September to December 2015 semester, I had to delay due to Canadian immigration difficulties and arrived January 7th 2016, staying until April 16 2016, during spring semester. 

At this time in the Project, six IUBAT graduates had been hired as teachers and I was the first volunteer to join the project, not as a teacher myself but as a mentor for these young teachers. My roles and responsibilities were very autonomous and self directed. My main focus was not to teach, but to help guide the teachers to develop their confidence, teaching styles, assignment setting, exam marking etc. I would sit with teachers before class and help them prepare, join classes and give support, answer questions, join in discussions, read assignments and give feedback on marking. I also accompanied teachers and students to attend clinical placements and updated some old lectures. 

As I was not directly responsible for classes each week, I had more flexibility to travel some parts of Bangladesh whilst there.”

What/where is your current position/role (i.e. are you a practicing nurse, writing/teaching full time?)?

I am an Australian registered nurse and have now been living and working in Canada for 3 years. I graduated in 2004 and have predominantly worked in Emergency in that time frame. I am currently registered in BC and working in Emergency.

Can you share your overall impressions of Bangladesh and your experiences with the Project?

“I had a truly great experience in Bangladesh, I can’t believe the availability of so many different foods! I’m very happy I came across the Project and was able to experience it. I am also happy I came across it in the stage that it was at: during the transition of the graduates into lecturers, rather than as a teacher myself. I found the role interesting, challenging, stimulating and worthwhile, although I had a few challenges along the way! All of the teachers said I made a difference, but a mentee faculty member probably gave me the greatest insight into this when he said something along the lines of, “You may not realize the difference you have made, but we know.” It was also interesting to hear the students talk at the end about things they had learned from having me there – a few off the cuff remarks I made seemed to have made an impact! I have encouraged them all to keep in contact and they are aware I’m happy to help over email when and if they need it.”

Thank you for sharing your insight during a pivotal time during the Project’s development, Roslyn, and it is without doubt that your assistance and guidance has helped strengthen the foundation and shaped the growth of the nursing program at IUBAT.  We’re sure the students and faculty alike can wholeheartedly agree that your influence has been positive and beneficial for the future direction of the Bangladesh Health Project!

IUBAT Graduate Overcomes Barriers for Dream Career

One of our alumni, Firoza, recently wrote to us to describe how her lifelong dream of being a nurse came to fruition.  Firoza has wanted a career in nursing from a very young age, and she recalls her journey to get to IUBAT.  She writes,

“Even from early childhood, I wanted to be independent.  A female neighbour, who was a primary school teacher, helped me believe that this was an achievable goal for me.  Also, as a fourth grade student, I read a storybook about a nurse that piqued my interest in the field.  My first attempt to get into nursing college was not successful, but I did not lose hope, I still believed that I would be an RN one day.  I completed a three-year paramedic course and got a job as a ward clerk at Sajida Hospital in South Dhaka.  While working at the hospital, my dream of being a nurse became stronger, but I knew that my family could not afford to pay the tuition through nursing school.  During my time at the hospital, I met Bimala Rai, a graduate of IUBAT and the chief nurse, who encouraged me to complete a BSN at IUBAT with bursary support from Bangladesh Health Project donations.  It was then that I was introduced to Dr. Karen Lund.  Both of them helped me gain bursary support in order to enroll in IUBAT’s BSN program.

I cannot explain how much happy I was when I got chance to enroll in the BSN course at IUBAT.  IUBAT is an English medium-university and students are taught by local faculty and international visiting volunteers.  Students from other departments informed me that IUBAT’s college of nursing followed a strict method of instruction, and in order to pass the program, one would have to dedicate a lot of hard work into their studies.  I was not deterred because I know that a journey of thousand miles starts with a single step.  English doesn’t come naturally for me, as I have only ever spoken Bangla, but I studied hard and I passed the program with a high score.  I was able to achieve this with lots of help from local and foreign faculty, and of course, Dr. Karen Lund.  I could not speak a single English word when I was first admitted to IUBAT, now I can speak English in front of thousand people.  I am very thankful to Dr. Karen Lund and other faculty members who always supported and encouraged me to study in nursing and helped me become competent enough to work in any corner in the world.

Now, since January 2nd, 2016, I have worked at Sajida Hospital, Narayanganj, as a Nursing Supervisor (Quality Improvement).  In this position, I have many responsibilities, such as performing professional supervisory practice in the care of physically ill people, and ensuring quality nursing care offered at the hospital facility.  I am working to improve and maintain the quality of nursing practice, using standard precautions.  I am currently organizing a training program to improve knowledge, identifying and assisting in resolving professional, administrative and supervisory problems in assigned areas. This is a more challenging job for me, but I like this work and the challenge of bringing positive change in nursing care.”

Thank you for this story, Firoza, and congratulations on your new supervisory position.  That is a remarkable achievement!  We hope that your career as a nurse is filled with many more successes, and perhaps one day, you may mentor someone contemplating nursing and help a young nurse-hopeful towards the program.

IUBAT Graduate Charters New Journey in Canada

At the Bangladesh Health Project, we love hearing from our alumni and getting updates on their lives and careers.  Sweta Sharma, one of the first graduates of the nursing program at IUBAT, has had quite the journey since she completed her BSc studies in 2009.  Her success has been featured here and here, and now, Sweta explains her initial impressions of the program and how she is furthering her career progress in a new country:

“When I enrolled in BSc Nursing, I had only a vague idea of what nursing entailed and what the roles and responsibilities of a nurse were, as I was the first person out of my family and close relatives to choose nursing as a career.  In addition, a BSc in Nursing was a new and emerging field at the time in Nepal and there were limited university offerings with very few seats.  That is why I went to Dhaka, Bangladesh to pursue my career.  I was excited about my journey, but at the same time I experienced the pain of leaving my family and friends, as the furthest distance I had ever travelled from home was 150 km, and Dhaka was 1000 km away!  For a few days, it was hard for me to adjust in a new country with a new language, culture and food, but within a few days, things started to become normal.

My first year as a student nurse was standard for most nurses, in essence, I was excited about learning new things, but at the same time, I was scared about everything.  I was usually consumed with such worries as, would I understand the theories of nursing?  Would I cope on the wards?  Would I be able to give my first IV?  However, after being exposed to the clinical practicum and being able to perform the hands-on nursing tasks, I have had the pleasure of caring for clients.  In every step of the learning process, the volunteer teachers always helped us, and their help was incredible.  They taught us to provide standard nursing care, to have effective communication with clients and family, to keep a journal, to make presentations, to do scientific research, guided us in our clinical and community placements and gave us constructive feedback when necessary.  Afterwards, I went back to Nepal and started working as a clinical nursing instructor to diploma and first-year BSc nursing students.  After starting my career as an instructor, I started to realize that my education from IUBAT was equal to other nursing instructors.  While working as an instructor, I often heard encouraging feedback from the students e.g. “Sweta was one of my best nursing instructors”, and “I want to be a nurse like Sweta in the future”.

After working almost 3 years in Nepal, I got a chance to pursue my Master’s degree in Emergency and Critical Care Nursing with an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship.  During that period, I saw exactly what it was to be a nurse in a developed country.  I was amazed to see their dedication towards their job, their level of knowledge, the respect they received, and the autonomy that they have.  I then realized why the instruction was the way it was at IUBAT, and why the volunteer faculty were so detail-oriented.

After I obtained my Master’s, I came to Canada in June 2015 and I have started paperwork to become a registered nurse. In the meantime, I have been trying to learn new skills and utilize my existing skills with hope of gaining work experience in Canada. To assist with that, I have begun to volunteer at Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, in Ottawa, Canada, as a community development and health promotion assistant, supporting PQCHC catchment area neighbourhoods with health promotion activities.

Finally, I want to say that none of us are perfect in our profession, as this profession offers us an opportunity to learn something new each day, as we touch new life every day, and with a positive attitude, we can make any experience a great and rewarding one. Also, I would like to thank all the nursing faculty members at IUBAT as well as the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for all of my training and experiences.”

We appreciate your updates, Sweta, and thank you for sharing some words of wisdom, which may influence more nursing hopefuls to fulfil and pursue their dreams.  Best of luck with your RN designation in Canada; you are one of the numerous success stories that have arisen out of IUBAT.  You have already accomplished so much, and we anticipate more of the same in the future.

Former Faculty Furthers Field of Medical Language Competency

Attending a student cultural event at IUBAT
Melodie Hull, seen above with students in Bangladesh, is a former volunteer instructor with IUBAT and is currently publishing an article regarding the need for language competency in healthcare settings.  Melodie has also been involved in many other written works, amongst them, textbooks that focus on medical English and healthcare terminology.  In commemoration of Melodie’s achievements, we have invited her to talk about teaching in Bangladesh and her prolific work as an author.

1) What was your role/responsibilities with the Bangladesh Health Project?

I taught several classes, one of which was on disaster nursing.  I used an example of disaster nursing at IUBAT and the adjacent community, wherein the students explored the potential role of nurses, the integration of other professionals at the university, and the logistics of how to work with spontaneous, emergency-response teams (for example, working with engineering students to solve problems such as collapsed buildings, access to water, flooding, etc.).  As a consultant and researcher, I also co-created a 100+ page summary of findings and recommendations for medical and nursing English, and English language education at the university level (and above).

Melodie teaching Nursing in Bangladesh 2009
Teaching in an IUBAT classroom.

2) What is your current position/role (i.e. are you a practicing nurse, writing/teaching full time)?

I am a nurse-educator, academic and scholar.  I am full-time nursing faculty in the BSN program at College of the Rockies (in Cranbrook, BC), and part-time nursing faculty with Thompson Rivers University Open Learning (in Kamloops, BC).  I am fairly well-published and have presented at numerous nursing education, nursing, psychiatric/mental health, and medical English conferences worldwide.  I hope to speak at a mental health conference in Europe this year, if I am lucky.  My publications have largely been either nursing articles and textbooks, or in English language/English for specific purposes/medical English journals and textbooks.  I have been cited by others for a number of these topics.

1999 Teaching in Chiapas
Teaching at English summer school in Chiapas, Mexico.

3) Can you please share more about your publications and your most recent article?

I wrote a textbook published by F A Davis Company, Philadelphia, USA in 2010: Medical English Clear & Simple: a Practice-Based Approach to English for ESL Healthcare Professionals.  This book sold quite well internationally, but less well here in North America.  As a result, like many books of this genre by other experts, this book is no longer in print.

I have another textbook still on the market: Medical Language: Terminology in Context.  This is a new approach to medical terminology, asserting my stance that medical language (which includes medical English) is an advanced subset of language and should be learned in the context of real healthcare situations.  This book is designed for all health and allied health students.

I have been working for years, drawing attention to the need for language competency in the health professions.  My latest article on this topic is currently in press and pending publication for February 2016: Hull, Melodie: Medical language proficiency: A discussion of interprofessional language competencies and potential for patient risk.  International Journal of Nursing Studies. 

Teaching on Route 5, Cancun, Mexico
Teaching on Route 5 in Cancun, Mexico.

Melodie, thank you for sharing the extensive amount of accomplishments in your career, for which you have gained international recognition for.  The BSN students at IUBAT were lucky to have someone so well-versed in medical language instruct and guide them, and we hope to read many more of your publications in the future.

Our Latest Newsletter has been Published!

Our most recent newsletter entitled, “BHP 2015: New beginnings to strengthen nursing in Bangladesh”, is now available to view here.  This issue summarizes the accomplishments that the program has made in the official recognition of its graduates, and the various new areas of focus for the Project in 2016.

Prefer to subscribe and receive updates in your email?  Please write to us at:

Thank you, as always, for your support and solidarity.

News from IUBAT College of Nursing

Dr. ASA Masud, Coordinator of the IUBAT College of Nursing, writes: “We are working hard to promote admissions for next semester. So far 10 students admitted for January admission and we are expecting another 7 or 8. The good news is we are getting some meritorious students with very good GPA. In the last semester we started extensive tutorial classes for the freshers as well as other students. We developed a separate schedule for conducting tutorial classes, which engaged our students 6 days a week for extra study. As a result, all students got highly satisfactory results on their end of term exams and none are now under probation. We now feel that we are making real progress with our new faculty.”

Nursing Faculty Hired

IUBAT faculty Nov 2015Alex Berland writes, “In late November, I visited IUBAT to meet with Dr. ASA Masud, Coordinator of the College of Nursing. I also met with the five IUBAT BSN graduates working in the College of Nursing, Shuvashish Das Bala, Mohammad Ali (Kiron),  Tahamina Chowdhury, Md. Shahedul Chowdhury and Ariful Haque Tutul (L to R in photo). We had a round-table discussion about their initial experiences as educators. I explained that international faculty volunteers would continue to support the IUBAT College of Nursing, with the first expected in January 2016. Visiting faculty will mentor the IUBAT faculty, especially with clinical supervision of students. During that visit, I also interviewed a sixth candidate, a top student from the prestigious military nursing college. She has since been hired as the latest faculty member at the College of Nursing.”

New Open Education Resource

OR4NE-logo-HWith support from nursing students at Canada’s Kwantlen College, we have just completed a new course, “Introduction to Nursing Part 2″. As with the previous courses (Introduction Part 1 and Medical Surgical Nursing Part 1), this Open Education Resource [OER] is based on the content developed by volunteers teaching at IUBAT. It is intended to assist nurse educators with open access materials, which they can adapt to meet their local needs. The course package includes lectures (PowerPoint and Word format), vocabulary and testing materials, plus critical thinking exercises. We have not yet developed a repository so educators should request access through the “Contact Us” link on our website  Like our work in Bangladesh, Open Resources for Nurse Educators is a volunteer project, so please excuse the slow progress! We welcome more supporters and suggestions for OER.

Caring Governor General’s Award Honours Dr. Karen Lund

Congratulations to Dr. Karen Lund, who was recently chosen to receive the Caring Governor General’s Award, a national honour bestowed upon Canadians who have spent a considerable amount of time towards volunteer efforts and helping others in Canada or abroad.  The Award recognizes the generous and selfless work of its recipients, and commends the compassionate example that is set for others.  Dr. Karen Lund has been involved with the Bangladesh Health Project since 2004, and currently serves as the program’s Visiting Faculty Chair.

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Dr. Lund joins Dr. JoAnn Leavey as a fellow Caring Governor General’s Award recipient.  You can read about Dr. Leavey in our post here and more about the Caring Governor General’s Award recipient here.

An emphatic thank you to Dr. Karen Lund for your many years of contribution to the BHP; your involvement has undoubtedly influenced the success of the Project in the past, and the influence will continue for years to come.  The recognition is well-deserved!