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High Commissioner at International Nurses Day Celebration

In May of this year, Benoît-Pierre Laramée, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh, visited IUBAT for an International Nurses Day celebration.  Mr. Laramée addressed the crowd and in his remarks he stated,

“We must recognize the utmost value of nurses. They are essential to quality healthcare and the closest professionals to the patients. Canada is providing 20 million dollars to improve nursing and other care in Bangladesh, and we are also proud to support institutional partnerships like the nursing training partnerships between Canadian universities and Bangladesh’s IUBAT. Nurses can lead the way in making Bangladesh healthier.”

In his presentation, the High Commissioner spoke of his own familial ties to the profession – his son is also studying to become a nurse, a fact that inspired many of the IUBAT Nursing students.

For pictures and comments, please visit the High Commission of Canada to Bangladesh’s Facebook page here.


Reflections on the State of Bangladeshi Health Care

In this New York Times article, the author quotes WHO (2010) in noting that 50,000 Bangladeshis travel to India for treatment each year.  This phenomenon of travelling to neighbouring countries to recieve healthcare is evident, as billboards that advertise hospitals in Singapore and Hong Kong are numerous in Bangladesh.  Bangladesh nationals justify the expense and trouble of travelling for care because of their mistrust of local hospitals.

Although there are many dedicated individuals working in difficult conditions, nurses are also mistrusted.  As a result of their low status and weak education, nurses’ scope of practice is very limited in Bangladesh – another reason patients get better care elsewhere.

However, there is positive change in the country.  Public health initiatives, many focused on marginalized populations like women, have been very successful in improving health outcomes in Bangladesh, and community-based forms of health care have increased access for much of the population.

IUBAT is also contributing towards better health care through the education of new nurses; IUBAT Nursing students practice in several private hospitals, not-for-profit and for-profit.  They also attend one government hospital, the National Institute for Mental Health.  Through a variety of health settings, the students are exposed to hospitals that have reasonable standards of care.  In post-practice seminars, the students have the chance to discuss any gaps in care that they have observed, and these points serve as learning opportunities and impetus for improvement.  Furthermore, visiting faculty volunteers offer training sessions for the nurses working in our teaching hospital sites.  Slowly, we see that care is improving; our mission is to speed that process for a wider population.

For the full New York Times commentary, please click here.

Latest Graduates Pass RN Examination

In early March, seven IUBAT graduates wrote and passed the licensing exam held by the Bangladesh Nursing Council. In the photo they are (L to R) Aakriti Koirala, Samir Chandra Das (Dr. Karen Lund) Tahmina Chowdhury, Kanika Islam, Seeta Ghimire and Sailesh Bhandari (not shown: Ariful Haque Tutul). The graduates can only write the BNC exam after four years of study at IUBAT, which culminate in comprehensive exams and a defence of their research thesis.

Now, as Sailesh writes, “I am waiting for the BNC License number and keeping myself open to opportunities which could bring my nursing knowledge and skills into great use.”

Congratulations to IUBAT’s latest nursing graduates. We welcome you to the nursing profession and look forward to hearing about your future work leading the transformation of health care.

Phase 2 of BHP is Underway!

We are now moving into Phase 2 of the Bangladesh Health Project as the management of the College of Nursing is being transitioned to IUBAT. Over the last 11 years, we created opportunities for professional advancement for our graduates as well as other local nurses and our visiting faculty volunteers. In addition, we have demonstrated to local healthcare providers how well-trained nurses can advance public health.

Dr. ASA Masud has been appointed as Program Chair for the College of Nursing. Dr. Karen Lund and Alex Berland continue as Program Advisers. In addition to Shahed Chowdhury (BSN 2011) who joined College of Nursing faculty two years ago, IUBAT has recently hired three other alumni, Nausheen Nafeez, Mohammed Ali (Kiron) and Ariful Haque (Tutul). We are very proud that they have passed the challenging entrance requirements to be appointed faculty at IUBAT. We will continue to recruit visiting faculty volunteers with a focus on supporting these novice educators as well as the BSN students. Please contact us if you would like to be involved.

Graduate Attributes Success to IUBAT Training

One of the rewards of being involved in the Bangladesh Health Project is watching the progress of the students and subsequently hearing about their post-graduation success.  We recently received such correspondence from a former graduate, Saphalta.  Saphalta currently holds the title of Campus Chief at Lahan Sagarmatha Educational Academy, in Lahan, Nepal.  In her role of Campus Chief, it is her responsibility to plan and manage the curricula and academic activities of the 3-year vocational training programs, called Proficiency Learning Certificate programs.  Additionally, as Campus Chief is a management position, she also supervises and evaluates the staff in their roles.  She writes:

“It has been a while since I have written, but I always keep my experiences with IUBAT close.  The knowledge and skills I learned during my training have guided me each day, and I am proud to be an IUBAT Nursing graduate.

Today, a team from the Nepal Nursing Council (NNC) audited Lahan Sagarmatha Educational Academy, and they are pleasantly surprised with the management.  They complimented my contributions to the success of the school, and remarked that my name, Saphalta, also means success.  They inquired about my education, and had guessed that I had studied in a very good environment and received very good guidance.

I am really very happy to hear all these things from NNC board members.  There is a common perception that nurses who trained in Nepal are more skilled than ones in neighbouring countries, but the board members said that they are seeing equal or even better skills in those who study abroad!

One year ago, a team from the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) came to our college for an inspection.  The CTEVT is a national autonomous body for technical and vocational education regulation.  Their inspection revealed our college to have the second highest ranking in our Eastern region!  Thus, I am very proud of the progress that our school has made.”

I would like to thank you and all the nursing faculties of IUBAT for all of my training and experiences.”

Thank you for sharing your successes with us, Saphalta, and we are grateful that you have found your experiences at IUBAT to be instrumental in the various skills you have mastered in your distinguished position.  We wish you the best of luck in the future, and hope to see you back one day at IUBAT.

Part II: Thank You, তোমাকে ধন্যবাদ, dhonnobaad to our Volunteers Working from Home

Over the past decade, many people have volunteered time and resources to make the Bangladesh Health Project so successful. There were so many generous contributions:

– Many people donated money that was used to pay guest-house expenses for visiting faculty volunteers, for teaching materials, and for expenses such as audits or website fees.
– Some people donated money to subsidize poorer students, or for hepatitis immunization so that all the nursing students were protected.  Several people donated used computer equipment, all of which were “tuned up” by Pete Jones of IT Works.
– We received regular donations of textbooks from librarians at the College of Registered Nurses of BC and from graduating Canadian students.
– Christina Paone of Paone Creative designed and updated our beautiful website, which has been visited thousands of times by people all over the world.
– Jen Preston helped manage volunteer applications, Helen Trung maintains the blog, Sara Jackson manages our recognition program for returning faculty and gathers textbooks.
– Students and faculty at Vancouver Community College and at University of Vermont raised funds locally before making their site visits to IUBAT.
– Irene Clarence, the Executive Director at Mid-Main Clinic, has provided terrific support over the entire period of the BHP.

We are grateful to all these globally-minded colleagues and friends who have helped the project from their own homes and workplaces.

Finally, thank you to our website visitors and our blog readers, who have been steadily gaining in numbers.  Our boundless gratitude for your continued interest in the BHP’s progress and for your support.  Our humble site and international efforts have attracted visitors from all around the world.  Being able to share our stories with interested parties, potential and past volunteers, current/former students and everyone in between is something that we truly value.

Reaching out to Alumni in Nepal

On behalf of Canadian directors and international volunteers from the Bangladesh Health Project, we send this message of concern to all College of Nursing alumni affected by the earthquake in Nepal. Best wishes for safety and health to you and your loved ones.

Furthering Nursing Education with Open Resources

After a decade working in Bangladesh, we have learned that the global shortage of nurses is made worse by an even greater shortage of capable nurse educators.  Therefore, we have just launched the website to access our Open Educational Resources [OER].  This new website will offer our BSN curriculum to support novice nurse educators in less developed countries.

We will post all of our English-medium resources: PowerPoint lectures, student and teacher references, exams and assignments, clinical checklists and policies. Under the Creative Commons license, the OER materials can be adapted and used freely by educational institutions offering nursing degrees, and by association, councils and other groups that provide continuing professional development for nurse educators. We have posted two sample courses and a Teachers’ Guide for beginning educators when using the OER at

Future phases of the work will include enhancing the OER with multimedia resources, evaluating use of the OER in various settings, and developing a community of practice to update the OER.

We are writing to you now for two reasons:

  1. The OER materials need editing and cataloguing. We would like your advice about potential partners or funders for this task.
  2. Would you be willing to volunteer your time to review and improve the Teachers’ Guide?

The website provides more information, or you can contact us at  We welcome your suggestions and advice.

Part I: Thank You and তোমাকে ধন্যবাদ, dhonnobaad to our Volunteer Faculty!

icddrb team 007
Due to the lack of qualified nurse educators in Bangladesh, international volunteers have taught most courses at IUBAT’s College of Nursing. Over the last decade, about 100 individuals paid their own travel expenses to volunteer with us.

Our visiting faculty are truly international, coming from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Middle East, Philippines, Portugal, UK and USA. They have been role models as successful, respected and well-paid professionals. Their presence helped change attitudes in the university as well as in our partner teaching hospitals. Showing solidarity with local nurses, demonstrating commitment and critical thinking – built our credibility as outsiders striving to change outdated views of nurses and nursing.

As a result of their capability and commitment, about 50 young men and women from Bangladesh and Nepal have graduated with BSN degrees. Local and expatriate doctors and nurses providers tell us they consider our graduates the best-prepared nurses in Bangladesh. Most are working in their own countries, many in leadership roles. A few are overseas in careers or higher education.

Thank you to all of our volunteer faculty. This generous effort will have benefits for these nurses, their future students and all their patients for decades to come.

IUBAT Graduates and their Career Progress

Meeting with IUBAT graduates 2015
Recently, six IUBAT graduates living in or near Dhaka, told us about their current jobs and plans for further education. Tutul is working as an instructor for the BRAC Midwifery Program, as are four other graduates who could not attend the meeting. Shahed is an instructor in the College of Nursing at IUBAT. He teaches various subjects to general university students, supervises the Nursing Practice Lab and promotes Nursing for the IUBAT student recruitment program. Rakib has worked at Ayesha Memorial Hospital since graduation. Initially at the bedside, he worked for a while in an administrative role, then returned to clinical work, now mostly in the ICU. Imran has focused on bedside nursing since graduation. He has been promoted to the High Dependency Unit at Apollo Hospital. His goal is to develop his clinical skills for eventual emigration. Nausheen works for an international NGO, where she organizes medical care for sponsored children. Her tasks are often very challenging as many of the children have special needs. Prashanta has had varied experience since registration, working as a research nurse, staff nurse in a large private hospital and on a Red Crescent team sent to support a seriously under-staffed rural hospital.

All the graduates are actively planning for further education, mostly in Master’s programs in Bangladesh or overseas. We wish them well and look forward to hearing of their career success in future.