What a year! 2017-2018, all wrapped up!
What a summer! I’ve been home for most of August in Montana and California!
It’s Sunday afternoon, 26th August. I’m in the plane on the way back to Port-au-Prince, ready to start the 2018-2019 academic year on Monday, September 10th. The nursing school,
FSIL, does a lot of planning during August, so by returning for the last week of August I will be able to join in some of that planning.
The 2017-2018 year finished in July with final exams for the freshmen. The clinical formation for the Sophomores and juniors continued into early August.
We lost three members of the freshman Class due to their failure in more than 2 courses: instead of 13 students, we now have 10. These programs are not easy, and guidelines are strict. The academic guidelines are requirements by MSPP, the Ministry of Health, for nursing programs. A student must pass all but two classes, out of more than 20 completed in freshman year.
The academic rules, even though they are harsh, are a protection against a big investment of time and money in an education that then cannot be completed by a degree. In order to graduate, each student must design and execute, and then defend a research project that uses all the skills gained from FSRL. If a student who cannot pass the earlier courses is promoted to fourth year, it could happen that after four and half years of effort that student would be unable to graduate with the bachelor’s degree: which would be a catastrophe!
The students who are not be going on will be missed. I dearly hope that another path to employment will open up for them.
SOPHOMORES & JUNIORS
Our students went in groups of two to four to a variety of outpatient rehabilitation clinics, some far away. The sites, which we appreciate so very much, were
- FONHARE (Fondation Haitienne de Réhabilitation) with Dr Ivens Louius and Dr Michael Falcon in Ouanaminthe in the north,
- FONTEN (Fondation Tous Ensemble) with Mme Consuelo Alzamora in Les Cayes in the south,
- Respiré Haiti with Mme Ashley Kahila in Léogâne,
- and Healing Hands for Haiti with Mr Anani and Mr Paulin in Bourdon, part of Port-au-Prince.
Responses of supervisors and students were positive: our students felt well prepared, and the supervisors appreciated their preparation and their initiative as well.
One situation that started off as a concern expressed by the students turned into a great learning opportunity.
At one of the sites, two PT students expressed surprise to me because their newly acquired skills in manual therapy for orthopedics (that is, hands-on physical evaluation followed by hands-on manipulation) were not being done at their clinic. Then during the students’ mid-term evaluation, they received the feedback from their supervisor that they were at fault themselves for not teaching their colleagues the techniques they knew!
That is a sign of a strong clinical program, a good health care facility, when practitioners are open to learning. One incentive for clinics to take students has always been that the practitioners learn new approaches when students come in fresh from classes: the other PTs and rehab techs wanted to learn what they had seen our students doing!
The experience will be repeated again and again as our students go out into the working world. That happens in all countries, but especially I think it will happen in Haiti where practitioners have had to struggle so much to get their education, and where continuing education is hard to come by. Our new graduates will need to be nurtured with continuing ed courses, and they will also need to be always teaching.
EXCITEMENT ABOUT THE NEW YEAR
Even though few students are on campus, there is an excitement in the air for the new year. FSIL has painted many walls, done a thorough cleaning (again) of the building, and revised and reprinted the very important Student Manual and Dormitory Manual. For FSRL, we are making phone calls and sending emails to fill in missing slots in our teaching rotation (hey! Maybe YOU want to come and teach!) . We’re considering how to stretch our dorm space, how to reinforce the rules and customs of FSIL that are also required of FSRL, how to hold a “Saturday School” for a handful of students who failed just one or two classes. We are looking forward to the return of Dr. Rachel Woodson, PT from Arkansas, who will help us with faculty coordination, some teaching, and some clinical supervision. This should be the year when our students begin a weekly fieldwork visit to Hôpital Ste Croix, the local Episcopal hospital that has been asking us all along to provide a rehab service. WE FINALLY HAVE FOURTH YEARS! SENIORS!
Our 4th year students are ready! We will ask Rachel to accompany them on their hospital visits as often as possible, and we hope to have another PT, a Haitian practitioner, to help us as well.
TWO “first days”; TWO BEGINNINGS
This campus has TWO beginnings. In September the returning students begin (Sept. 10) and on October 1 the new freshmen begin. The first-year student process will be described in a later blog – stay tuned!