Methods: A descriptive qualitative study using surveys were distributed to Haitian nurses in attendance at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Haiti National School of Nursing on October 14, 2018 in Port-au-Prince. The 14 question survey used a mix of closed- and open-ended questions requiring written responses from the respondents. The survey was translated from English into French for the nurses. Responses were translated from French into English for analysis.
Results: Sixteen Haitian nurses completed the survey during the celebration and these were collected. Thirteen respondents were alumni of the Haiti National School of Nursing and three respondents were graduates of other nursing schools including the National School of Nursing in Cap-Haitien, Haiti and a school in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and one school was not reported. The average number of years of practicing nursing was thirty and three of the respondents were retired. All of the 16 respondents have practiced nursing in Haiti. Positions for the nurses that were still actively working include teaching in undergraduate nursing programs (the majority were clinical instructors at HNSON) and midwifery in Haiti. Several were directors of nursing in public or private hospitals in Haiti. Some respondents identified the implementation of a four year curriculum of training which conferred a baccalaureate in science (nursing) as an important moment in the history of the school. The needs of the school include equipment that is in good working order, use of technology to teach in the classroom and at the bedside, the availability of books, a skills lab, creation of internships for the students, more preceptors are needed at the public university hospital in Port-au-Prince, more instructors, and creating an environment that is conducive to learning for the students. A dream for the next 100 years in the history of the school would be the creation of a graduate school offering programs in nursing administration, nursing education, and the family nurse practitioner role.
Conclusion: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and its population suffers from severe health hardships. Multiple reasons contribute to this – natural disasters, unstable political conditions, lack of a middle class, limited access to western medicine, ineffective infrastructure, high maternal-child mortality rates and an under-funded healthcare system. There is a shortage of Haitian nurses and also a migration of nurses to higher income countries that provide more opportunities. The establishment of the Haiti National School of Nursing began in 1917 with a treaty between the United States and Haiti. Two U.S. Naval nurses opened the school in 1918, and it remained under U.S. control until 1931. Over the last 100 years, the school affiliated with the medical school, focused on public health nursing, maternity and nutritional issues, and developed and implemented a four year nursing curriculum. Since the earthquake of 2010, some of the school’s nursing faculty were able to graduate from a three-year graduate program in which they learned advanced educational and research skills to teach the next generation of Haitian nurses. The respondents were very optimistic for the future of the HNSON, as reflected in some their comments. The nurses value their professional responsibilities to take care of the Haitian people and to help the Haitian population stay healthy.