Student Life

Alumnus Obtains Master’s in Sweden

Kiron, in the front holding flowers, with his Master’s cohort

When we last heard from Kiron, he had just been rewarded a scholarship to pursue a two-year Master’s program in Uppsala, Sweden. Since then, he has come home to Bangladesh for a visit and to mentor current students, who appreciate his knowledge and wisdom from the field.  He also shares more of his current life since moving for his international studies:

I have recently finished a two-year Master’s program in International Health, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health/IMCH from Uppsala University in Sweden. My studies were funded by the Swedish Institute Study Scholarship/SISS. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Swedish Institute; otherwise, it may would not have been possible. Teaching students to develop and build their problem-solving skills in the area of public health was the overall aim of the Master’s program. Studying in Sweden has thereby developed my critical thinking and learning skills needed for entry into health-related research and employment.

Presently, I work as a nurse assistant at the Burn Center at Uppsala University Hospital, which is the largest burn center in Sweden. Our unit provides care for any type of burn patients in both indoor and outdoor settings; therefore, I have encountered opportunities to improve my bedside nursing skills, particularly wound dressing and infection control. Moreover, I have the opportunity to closely observe the Swedish nurses’ roles in health care settings. It is important to note that not only are the Swedish nurses an integral part of healthcare settings, but they also have the freedom and the ability to lead major decisions in most cases. I am more than happy today to be a part of the Swedish healthcare system. My next goal is to work as a nurse here in Sweden and I hope I will write the national exam in the next year in order to become a registered nurse.

During my last visit in February to Bangladesh, I attended the picnic organized by IUBAT’s College of Nursing. It was a very special and highly memorable experience both for students and faculty. At the end of the picnic day, I shared some of my own thoughts and experiences to the present nursing students. It was wonderful to see that enrollment in the program is growing and increasing. I hope that the nursing students take pride in their nursing education – I believe with good reasons that our nursing students will go on to become qualified nurses, leaders, educators and so forth.

In conclusion, I would like to say that my goal is not only to work, but also to try to make a contribution to improve public health sectors, especially in the fields of sexual and reproductive health and disease. My Master’s thesis covered Bangladeshi adolescent sexual and reproductive health education. In addition, I presented my findings and my paper (entitled, “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Education from the Perspective of Muslim Peoples in South Asia and Middle East”) at both the 13th International Knowledge Globalization Conference Dhaka 2018 and the Swedish Global Health Research Conference 2018.

Congratulations on your recent accomplishments, Kiron!  The students and faculty alike love it when you come back to Bangladesh and visit IUBAT.  Please keep us posted with your progress in Sweden and we all wish you the very best of luck on your upcoming goals and projects.

Festivities at the Annual IUBAT Nursing Picnic

spring 2018 picnic - pot pinata

Students play “pot pinata” – where the participant is blindfolded and attempts to strike an upturned clay pot on the ground ahead

On March 15th, 2018, current BSN students planned a student/faculty/alumni picnic.  Every year, students have the opportunity to organize such an event in order to have some extracurricular social time, but also to develop their leadership and organizational skills whilst learning to work as a team.  The students organize the picnics themselves, including all the transportation, food, games, sound system, venue and budget.  The location often varies, with some examples in the past being resort parks or rural areas.  This year, approximately 80 people, including faculty, alumni, students and family members, attended the picnic, hosted at a park in Gazipur, about 2 hours by bus from the university.  There was a swimming pool that was enjoyed by many and games were played.  The students cooked food for the attendees and fun was had by all.

spring 2018 picnic - swimming

Students swimming in the park, an increasingly popular pastime.

IUBAT College of Nursing Updates

We caught up with Dr. Karen Lund, Visiting Faculty Chair of the IUBAT BSN Program for the latest news from Dhaka.  She states:

“As the BSN Program at IUBAT is finding it’s own feet by hiring their own full-time faculty, it is a time of growth and transition, but also relative uncertainty for staff and students.  However, there is 100% support under the new Vice Chancellor of IUBAT, Dr. Abdur Rab.  He has been very encouraging in terms of helping to implement suggestions from the BSN faculty, particularly with regard to academic and quality assurance measures.  Admission is also increasing: in the spring semester of 2018, there were 28 freshmen, a much bigger cohort than the 3-5 members in our inaugural year!  Along with the admission spike, there are additions to the faculty as well.  We currently have five faculty, including three of our own alumni, and are happy to report that alumnus, Shuvashish Das Bala, is now the Coordinator of the College of Nursing.  We are also happy to report that former alumnus faculty, Mr. Ali Kiron, has just graduated with a Masters in Global Health from Sweden!

 From January to March of this year, a comprehensive quality assurance review was conducted by the Government of Bangladesh (funded by the World Bank Initiative and carried out by the University Grants Commission) of all universities in Bangladesh.  To complete this review, an external inspection team evaluated our self-assessment report and, over three days, meticulously examined facilities, documentation and teaching environments, and held interviews with students and faculty.  Each department at each university was inspected independently and we are proud to announce that according to the resulting detailed 200-page report, IUBAT’s BSN College of Nursing received a score of Very Good, which is rarely awarded.  The reported cited the CON’s potential as a “flagship program” for nursing education.”

Alumnae Publishes Nutrition Textbook

COMMUNITY AREAA member of our first graduating class, Sushma Sapkota (previously mentioned here) has had quite a vocational journey since moving on from IUBAT.  She has worked in a variety of settings and occupied a number of roles, but now, she has also added the title ‘published author’ to her resume.  In her own words, she describes her career progress and how she came to write a textbook:

“After graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from IUBAT, I began working at an American super-specialty hospital in Uttara, Dhaka.  While working, I was able to see the difference that nurses make and the smiles on patients’ faces, which made me realize that IUBAT taught us the skills in order to make those smiles happen.  Soon after, I obtained my Master’s degree while working at Ayesha Memorial Hospital, a universal medical and nursing college.  All of the standard practices that I learned from IUBAT, I applied to my everyday regimen at Ayesha Memorial Hospital.  After completing my Master’s degree, I worked as a nursing supervisor at Sajida Foundation in Narayangong, Bangladesh, then came back to Nepal where I began working as a lecturer to BSc Nursing students, teaching Community Health Nursing, Nutrition and Dietetics, and some courses of Medical Surgical Nursing and Midwifery Part III (Postnatal).

Industrial visit with students

Sushma, in the field with her students

After starting my career as lecturer, I realized that my education from IUBAT was similar to some best colleges of Nepal, however, at times, I felt like I was spoon feeding information to the students.  It seemed like the teacher was doing more labour than the student.  I was then promoted to work as the coordinator of the Nursing program for 1st and 2nd year students.  I got a chance to learn more about leadership and management of students, and was even able to apply my leadership skills that I obtained from my own studies in Nursing Administration, part of the IUBAT Nursing Program.  While working as a clinical supervisor, I often heard positive and encouraging feedback from the students that they wanted to emulate my style and skillset.  Students were inspired by my class, teaching and clinical supervision style.

Nutrition Exhibition with Sushma and her students

Nutrition Exhibition with Sushma and her students

In addition to working as coordinator of the 1st and 2nd year program, I also got the chance to work as the coordinator of the 2nd and 3rd year program.  In the meantime, I also received my ‘Skilled Birth Attendant (SBA) training in Nepal.  Most recently, I am working as coordinator of the 4th year Nursing students; I design the curriculum, rotation plans (especially clinical postings), weekly class schedules, prepare exams and end of year assessments, and schedule clinical rosters for the students.  I also coordinate with the nursing chief, clinical supervisor, and hospital management team regarding clinical postings.  As the 4th year coordinator, I am responsible with selecting research topics and supervising 3-4 students in their research.

My greatest achievement to date is publishing my nutrition text entitled, “Comprehensive Textbook of Food and Nutrition”.  Preparing a book was challenging; I had to study many references to make it more credible and useful.  A large number of books on food and nutrition are available in the market, but some had much irrelevant material, or were missing content, or contained content that was far too tailored to one university’s curriculum to be considered comprehensive.  I have reviewed different national and international books, journals, reports, articles, guidelines, policies, strategies, and protocols related to food and nutrition in order to produce this text.  The book has 13 units, written to meet the course requirements of the nursing programs of many different universities; however, it will also be helpful for students enrolled in similar areas of study such as Public Health, food technology and so on. I have tried to incorporate all essential areas of food and nutrition in this book to provide a complete understanding of the subject.

sush cover book

Producing a book requires coordinated effort, which no author can accomplish without the involvement of friends, relatives, colleagues, seniors and especially teachers.  First of all, I want to thank God Almighty who made it possible to fulfill my vision of writing this book.  I feel grateful to, and want to acknowledge, Dr. Karen Lund, Senior Advisor of Health Sciences (ex-nursing program chief of IUBAT), and Adjunct Professor Alex Berland, for their support, guidance and inspiring words for my book.  They helped me tremendously in writing this text.  They were even kind enough to send me examples of texts in Canada as reference.

It would be unfair if I didn’t acknowledge the professionalism and diligence of my nutrition teacher: Judi Morton at IUBAT, who taught me the nuances of this subject.  My book delivers a comprehensive overview of nutrition, from introduction to food and nutrition, balanced diets, nutritional needs across the life span, to management of health and disease through therapeutic diets.  It contains numerous figures and tables which illustrate key concepts and conditions as well as explain details about the national nutrition policy in Nepal.

Last but not the least, I am grateful to IUBAT, as my education gave me a platform to write a book, as well as develop my skills as a nurse and a person.  I learned about plagiarism, which is a not a well-known concept amongst students of Nepal.  As a result, many of the books in Nepal are just copy and paste, but knowing this and trying to avoid it, I was able to produce a nutrition text that could exist as a standard of reference in Nepal.”

Congratulations to Sushma on her monumental achievement and on her contributions to healthcare knowledge and education in Nepal.  Publishing a textbook involves rigorous effort and is an extremely large undertaking.  Excellent work, Sushma, and we can hardly wait to hear about your next project!

Updates from BHP’s Advisor of Health Sciences

Alex IUBAT 2017
Alex Berland, Advisor of Health Sciences at IUBAT and founding member of the Bangladesh Health Project, reports on his recent visit to IUBAT.  He writes:

“The university is overall busier than ever with new construction underway to meet the demand for good quality higher education. College of Nursing enrolment remains disappointing, mostly due to proliferation of private colleges with cheaper fees; guardians may not consider quality in making decisions, especially for their daughters. IUBAT is now reducing BSN tuition fees with scholarships for strong students.

On a brighter note, I was happy to observe in both classroom and hospital the quality of current students. Obviously, our faculty are doing a terrific job promoting English use, encouraging critical thinking and pushing students to use problem-solving skills. Dr. Masud, Coordinator of the College of Nursing, is building a strong faculty team of graduates from IUBAT as well as other good colleges. After several meetings with faculty, I feel very positive about their ability.

Our library collection and nursing lab benefitted from re-organization by visiting faculty Anne-Marie Hummelman. Spring semester volunteers, Emily Hagg and Nancy Campbell, shared their positive impressions of faculty that they have been mentoring. Also, I visited an excellent practice site, Universal Medical Hospital, led by a visionary chairwoman who has hired IUBAT graduates as senior managers. Similarly, at Sajida Health Programs, IUBAT graduates hold senior roles managing innovative programs. Several IUBAT graduates recently sent news about their career accomplishments, so I am feeling very positive about the impact of the Bangladesh Health Project through its many supporters and visiting faculty over the past 13 years.”

Greetings from Alumnus in the United States

Isata Jalloh, a 2013 graduate of IUBAT’s program of nursing, writes to us about her latest achievement and her new position in the United States of America.

I was inspired by two people to pursue nursing: my mother, who is my greatest inspiration and always believes in me. Additionally, my sister, who passed away 14 years ago, helped me understand the true meaning of caring, the desire to help people and make a difference in their lives in their time of need. It brings joy in my heart to help in this way. I passed my NCLEX exam on April 1st, 2016 and I am currently practicing at the Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Maryland as a trauma unit nurse since August 8th, 2016. I perform comprehensive physical exams and health histories, make daily compliance rounds on my assigned unit, supervise direct care staff and make decisions about patient care needs. I also administer medications, treatment, wound care and provide direct care to patients according to physician orders. With all of the diversity that I have been exposed to for the past 12 years of my life while travelling, I am really enjoying my job here in the US. I believe every new role comes with its challenges and I am learning every day with a goal of making a difference. Once again, a big thank you to Alex, Karen and IUBAT Bangladesh for giving me the opportunity to become a better nurse.

We love getting updates from our alumni, and are thrilled that the impact of the Project is reaching all of the corners of the world!  Isata, we are grateful that you can share your progress with us, and please continue to keep us updated throughout your career (and your travels)!


Part II: Graduate Reflects on Influence of Nursing

Midwifery conference_3
In this post, we continue sharing the story of Bimala, who was featured in our most recent blog entry.

“I had worked at the Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON) for 1 ½ years, spanning 2012-2014, so I had the opportunity to learn a lot about normal births and respectful maternity care. When I gave birth to my baby, I had a really bad experience in the first hospital I went to, but fortunately also a good experience in the second hospital where I eventually delivered my baby. I had a strong will to give birth normally, and despite doctors’ mistreatment, I was able to stay confident and assert my wishes throughout the childbirthing process. My nursing education from IUBAT and work in MIDSON had a great role in building up that will and confidence in me. As an advocate for the right to quality health care, I felt it necessary that I share my experience with MIDSON and add to their knowledge of yet another example of professional misconduct in hospitals around childbirth in Nepal. They soon replied, offering me to publish as well as present my story in the 2nd National Midwifery Conference held on May 4-5, 2016.

Midwifery Conference
I shared my story to an audience of 250 personnel from various professional backgrounds and organizations in the field of maternal and child health. A downside while presenting was that they reduced my timeslot of 30 minutes to 10 minutes (an error that the announcer made), and the time for participation from the audience was not allowed. However, all of the participants had a copy of my story with them to read and also, many of them shared their sad childbirth stories with me offstage.

Midwifery conference group photo
All of us agreed that there is need for awareness and empowerment of mothers to speak up against the obstetric abuse to bring about the change.”

Bimala, it is truly inspiring to see the empowerment that you have gained from nursing and your resolve to use your personal experience to share knowledge and relate to others as well.  Please continue what you are currently doing, this message that you are spreading is one of importance and worth hearing, for nurses, healthcare professionals and for all of us, as patients.

Part I: Graduate Reflects on Influence of Nursing

Me and Ninama
Bimala, pictured above with her daughter Ninama, is one of the first graduates of IUBAT’s College of Nursing (you may read about that here). She has been featured extensively in our blog, but she writes us again to share her preconceived notions of nursing and the impact of her training on her life, even long after she completed the program.  She shares how her perspective of nursing has evolved over the course of her schooling and how it continues to shape her experiences. She writes:

“When I had to choose a Bachelor’s degree program for my career, I chose nursing for two reasons: 1) The ever increasing demand for nurses and 2) Good salary for qualified nurses in developed countries. That would take me away from my meddling family for sure!  Hence, I chose the College of Nursing at IUBAT, Bangladesh, which was far away from family. It did not go as I planned but I am glad it is that way. Why? I’ll tell you.

My ideas about nurses and nursing took a complete 180 degree turn while at IUBAT. I used to think nurses carried out doctors’ orders: gave medications and maybe dress a wound sometimes. These notions were built up from my observations while visiting family members at hospitals in Nepal. However, through my nursing education in IUBAT, I learned that a nurse is supposed to be responsible and accountable for providing compassionate care to his/her client through a holistic approach, which integrates not just physical but social, psychological, and spiritual aspects that are interconnected and affect an individual as a whole. I learned that a nurse is a linchpin between patients and the rest of his/her multidisciplinary team, that a nurse is the patients’ advocate. I learned that nurses were highly respected professionals, not because of the salary they were paid, but because of the important roles and responsibilities they carried out in patient care (although, hence the salary!).  The IUBAT instructors were true role models for nurse professionals. They were kind, caring, respectful, and always trying to help improve the patient care of the health care facilities. They were also encouraging us, the students, to be the catalyst for a better nursing care practice. As I learned more about nursing, I became aware of the greater role of nurses in patient care and the wider scope of their practice. I then truly started to respect the nursing profession and was proud to call myself a nurse.

Aware of the true potential of a nurse, I came to understand that there is a greater need of professional nurses in countries like mine. I immediately realized that there was a big difference between IUBAT teachings and actual nursing care practices in most of the healthcare facilities of Nepal and Bangladesh.  It also became clear that the nominal and substandard roles of nurses and their scope of practices in these countries were a direct result of poor nursing regulations and education. This realization was life changing to me. I became more interested in improving the nursing care and healthcare standard of countries like mine and Bangladesh instead of working in developed countries. It has become my goal to help Nepal, and if possible, other similar countries, attain a health care system that provides quality healthcare to its citizens regardless of their race, gender, and social or financial status.  

Apart from finding my goal, the skills, knowledge and attitude that I obtained from the IUBAT Nursing Program has saved me from possible obstetric abuse during an important phase of my life – my childbirth. Through the program I have become passionate about advocating for the patients’ right to quality healthcare. The program taught me to become assertive, a critical thinker, and a lifelong learner of good health care practice. Because of these traits, I was able to research current practices around childbirth cases like mine and was empowered to humbly question practices of the doctors/nurses caring for me. I had the confidence to stand up against their professional misconduct and deny their intervention. I was also able to seek the right professionals and place for my childbirth. Because I had become a strong nurse (thanks to IUBAT’s Nursing Program!) I was able to give birth to a wonderful baby girl and experience a wonderful childbirth.”

We are grateful that you shared this lovely narrative for our readers and glad that you were able to give some insight as to how the program was transformative in a variety of ways.  Please stay tuned for the next post, wherein Bimala uses her personal and professional experiences to craft a presentation for healthcare professionals and industry experts.

Alumnus Lands Position with Médecins Sans Frontières‎ (Doctors Without Borders)

The journey for some students through the rigorous training program at IUBAT is decidedly challenging, and the English language instruction, as well as comprehensive curriculum, require dedication and hard work in order to master.  Samir Chandra Das is a graduate from our College of Nursing and is now finding success in his career as a registered nurse, but he describes the bumps he encountered along the way, and the support he received in return.  He writes:

“My name is Samir, and I graduated from the College of Nursing at International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT) in 2014.  As a child, I wanted to be a health care leader.  I love to serve those that are marginalized, poor and vulnerable.  As I love working with people, I selected nursing as a profession, since there are many opportunities to serve and benefit that population.  Furthermore, my brother inspired me greatly to pursue nursing.  He explained to me what nursing was all about and about the prospects and job fulfilment.

Once I made the final decision to become a nurse, I was looking for the most reputable nursing institution.  That is when I encountered IUBAT.  After my admission to IUBAT, I met with Dr. Karen Lund, the Faculty Chair for Health Sciences at IUBAT.  She spoke to me about the variety of job prospects that I could have after graduation, including other benefits regarding nursing jobs in Bangladesh and abroad.  At the beginning of my studies, I was quite depressed because of my poor English skills.  After some time, however, I met with our respected Alex Berland, Senior Advisor in Health Sciences at IUBAT.  I shared my problems regarding my studies with him, and he gave me some valuable suggestions that helped me with completion of my studies and with my English skills and competency.  I am really grateful to IUBAT and our faculty whom taught me, including our international volunteers and national staff.  Because of all of them, I am where I am now.

P_20160720_105759_1_BF_p (1)
Samir, shown here, working with the Kamrangirchar Urban Slum Project with MSF

Just after my graduation from IUBAT, I got an opportunity to work at Gastro Liver Hospital and Research Institute in Dhaka as a staff nurse.  Currently, I am working in Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF-H), Bangladesh as an Occupational Health nurse since November, 2015.  

As an Occupational Health nurse, my role is to provide basic health care to the factory workers and to find out the occupational health diseases.  I am also responsible for providing vaccinations to the children, women and male factory workers, medication administration, IV cannulation, nebulization, dressing, history taking, room temperature monitoring, measuring of vital signs, maintenance of infection control protocols, patient counselling, maintenance of medicine inventory and consumption, maintenance of the cold chain of vaccine, and performance of laboratory tests such as urinalysis, pregnancy tests, syphilis etc.

My opinion is that the College of Nursing at IUBAT is the best nursing college in Bangladesh.  The knowledge that I learned from IUBAT is really essential for my practical services.  I am thankful to IUBAT and our all faculty (national and international) for their valuable suggestions and time, which make me competent enough to provide standard quality of care to patients.  Again, thank you so much for everyone who was with me in my entire nursing journey.”

Thank you for sharing your accomplishments and challenges, Samir, and we are certain that your story will bolster and encourage students currently in the program who may be facing some difficulties of their own.  We congratulate you on your new position with Médecins Sans Frontières, and we hope that you continue to thrive and grow in your role as a nurse.

Snapshots of Student Life

The following are photos taken at Aysha Memorial Hospital on the last day of clinical practice of the Spring 2016 semester for the students in NUR219. These are second year students and the NUR219 class is the first time that students attend clinical practice. Prior to this experience, the students are in the lab classes on campus.

On the left is Shuvashish Das Bala, the instructor for NUR219. It was Shuvashish’s first time in this role as Assistant Lecturer at IUBAT University, taking students on clinical.  This is significant as to highlight the importance of the volunteer faculty (in this case, Roslyn) to help support these new and eager faculty members transition into this role. Next to Shuvashish (from left to right) are nursing students Philomena, Khadiza, Roslyn (volunteer faculty) and Sumona.

In this photo is Mohammad Ali (Kiron), Assistant Lecturer at IUBAT University, with Philomena, Khadiza, Roslyn and Sumona. Whilst not responsible for this class, Kiron participated with clinical to gain experience in this role and to prepare himself for when he will be responsible for taking his students on clinical placement.  He is also featured on our blog here.

Nursing students, Philomena, Sumona and Khadiza are illustrating standard dress while on clinical. Students are expected to be neat, professional and in uniform, and ready to participate in any and every experience while on practical. They are expected to take notes, ask questions and learn as much as possible. The teachers supervising are available to help and ensure that international standards being taught at IUBAT University are being upheld in the clinical environment.

Finally, this photo showcases nursing student, Sumona, at Aysha Memorial Hospital on the female ward at the nursing station, reading a patient’s chart.

In this course, students attend the hospital one day/week for clinical practice and according to volunteer faculty, Roslyn, “it was really great to see how excited and eager the students were. They would come to the teachers with charts to show us patients on the wards that had conditions related to what they had been learning in lectures. They would describe skills they had participated in with the nurses on the wards, follow doctors on rounds, tend to patient care and translate to English for the foreign faculty what they were discussing/asking patients. The students improved greatly over the semester and it was a pleasure to see them grow in their skills and confidence as student nurses.”

A huge thank you to Roslyn Coltheart who helped with the descriptions of the photos and elaborating on this course during the nursing curriculum.  To read more about Roslyn, please click here.


Please visit our Flickr page for more photos!