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Maboh Nkwati Visits from Cameroon to Explore Opportunities for Collaboration with the College of Nursing and Health Professions

October 24, 2013

Maboh and Cheryl at SignDuring his second year of nursing school at the University of Buea in his native Cameroon, Maboh Nkwati was exposed to nursing philosophies and principals and felt that he was “home.” Although he was initially interested in attending medical school, Nkwati’s acceptance into a Bachelor of Nursing Science program was a serendipitous change of direction in his early career.

From there, he went on to earn a Master’s degree in Nursing Education from his alma mater and is currently a PhD candidate in Nursing Studies at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. Although he is enrolled in a PhD program there, he lives and works in an English-speaking part of Cameroon as the Registrar and Director of the St. Francis School of Health Sciences, Buea. St. Francis is a large school, with 100 full- and part-time faculty serving about 500 health professions students annually. He is also a second-year FAIMER (Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research) Fellow. The fellowship selection process is extremely competitive, with only sixteen new fellows accepted each year from around the globe because of their identified potential for changing healthcare education and healthcare outcomes in their country. He is also president of the Association of Nures Educators in Cameroon (ANEC).

Nkwati visited the Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions for two full weeks to learn about our nursing education practices as well as to explore opportunities for Drexel University to connect and collaborate with the St. Francis School. He began his trip with a full faculty meeting. “There was no better way to give me a global view of what the CNHP is all about and what it’s doing and the kind of results it’s achieving,” Nkwati said. “That experience was very wonderful and the timing was so great. I listened to your reports during that meeting and I was impressed.” Nkwati also took a tour of the Simulation Labs with John Cornele, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Clinical Simulation. “One of the first things I decided I wanted to do when I return to Cameroon is training someone from my institution in simulation,” Nkwati said.

In Cameroon, most professional nurses receive three years of education before practicing, though there are shorter diploma programs for enrolled nurses and nurse assistants. Although Bachelor’s degrees in nursing are becoming more available in his country, Nkwati remarked that Master’s programs are few and far between. After doing a lot of reading on the structure of nursing and nursing education around the world, Nkwati says his “passion ignited at that moment and it kept burning and increasing…it keeps on increasing!” His main focus now is to build and improve nursing education in Cameroon, and his visit to the CNHP has given him some ideas to share and implement upon his return.

In addition to attending a full faculty meeting and touring the Simulation Labs, Nkwati met with Dean Gloria Donnelly. “I’m thankful she sat down with me to share her philosophy and her vision for the CNHP. There’s a lot for me to learn from her,” he said. Additionally, Nkwati met with Fran Cornelius, PhD, to discuss ways that they could develop educational opportunities between Drexel and Cameroon. Alice Poyss, PhD, gave him a presentation on the structure and philosophy of the Advanced Roles MSN Program. “It’s the type of program we’ll need in Cameroon to develop nurses’ capacity to influence and make change in their systems,” Nkwati explained. He also sat down with Karen Goldschmidt, PhD an assistant clinical professor and Chair of the RN-BSN Department, with whom he discussed formulas for updating diploma programs into ones that offer degrees.

“Everyone that I had the opportunity to meet at the College of Nursing and Health Professions met my expectations and beyond. I met Lora Furman and she showed me what she was doing with her statistics report. It made me see that the systems here are quite advanced. It gives me a plan for how to- in the next few years- start building something like that,” Nkwati said. He also got to see three different community nursing models when he visited two voluntary health clinics, one of which is Vincent Zarro, PhD's, donor-run operation in Chinatown, as well as 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University.

During his two-week visit, Nkwati also attended many meetings and had the chance to meet many of our faculty. He gave a presentation at the College about nursing in Cameroon that was well received by attendees. This was similar to the presentation that he gave to staff members at the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools while in Philadelphia.

Nkwati is already looking forward to future ways in which the St. Francis School and the Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions might collaborate. “St. Francis opens up a huge opportunity for research on health-related and educational issues,” he elaborated. “If people from Drexel start looking for research opportunities in Cameroon, they can be sure that they have an institution that will give them their full cooperation and do the groundwork for and with them.” The relationship the College has made with Nkwati will give Drexel a foothold in that part of the world, opening up opportunities for research projects, study abroad, and faculty exchanges. Cameroon, a stable, English-speaking country with many different tribes offers up interesting research topics not just in the health professions but also for those interested in sociological and anthropological issues. Nkwati assures that the CNHP and Drexel University as a whole “can be sure they’d find a very welcoming community at St. Francis.”

Maboh Nkwati was hosted by Cheryl Portwood, an assistant clinical professor in the Advanced Role MSN Department. “I had a very wonderful time there. It’s like I shouldn’t go back [to Cameroon]!” he exclaimed. Nkwati and Portwood first met a year ago through their association with the FAIMER Institute. He ended by saying that he felt very welcome and comfortable at the College of Nursing and Health Professions. “Thank you to all of the people I’ve met here at the CNHP. I’m very grateful,” he said.