The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) is facing a nursing shortage. Among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries (which include the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel) in 2013, there were 8.8 nurses per 1,000 people. In comparison, there were just 2 nurses per 1,000 people in the West Bank and 4.1 per 1,000 in Gaza in 2012 (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics).
In addition, it is often extremely difficult for Palestinians to leave the oPt in order to access training to become ophthalmic nurses.
SJEHG is the main provider of specialist ophthalmic nursing training in the Middle East and its course is the only one of its kind in the oPt. Our training programme provides ophthalmic training for between six and ten nurses every year. Upon completion, graduates are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Ophthalmic Nursing, accredited by the University of West London. Expert training is at the heart of SJEHG; training local doctors and nurses is one of our essential objectives.
Once trained, the nurses will go on to treat thousands of patients in their careers. Many nurses who undertake the course are given future employment with us.Once trained, the nurses will go on to treat thousands of patients in their careers. Since 1998, the program has produced 139 graduate nurses, 65 of whom currently work for SJEHG. The remaining nurses work in other medical centres and units across the oPt, where they become the facility’s expert in the area, often providing referrals to our clinics and hospitals.
Ahmad Ma’ali, Director of Nursing, says, “We don’t just train for the hospital, but for the community also.”
Six students started the full-time, 12 month course in December 2015. The course comprises of two main modules, the first focusing on theoretical knowledge and clinical experience and the second on community ophthalmic health. Students finish with a three month consolidation period at one of our medical centres, in order to strengthen and fortify their knowledge in a demanding and stimulating environment.
The nurses are financially supported throughout the course so that their financial situations are not a barrier to them undertaking the training. Our Specialist Ophthalmic Nursing Course significantly contributes to the shattered medical infrastructure of the oPt by giving nurses the opportunity to gain sight-saving skills which they can then utilise across the region.
In September 2016 our Nursing Students graduated from our Sir Stephen Miller School of Nursing and have begun working in our services - below is a picture from their graduation ceremony. Updates to follow!