30 May 2013

Examining in the Kingdom of Bahrain

MANAMA, Kingdom of Bahrain—The last time I visited Bahrain, I arrived on a Sunday night and took a taxi to the nearest Catholic church to attend Mass. This proved to be a mistake. The “five minutes” from the hotel, as estimated by the hotel receptionist, turned into a considerable taxi ride, miles from the Diplomatic Area (DA) where I was staying. The class of housing dropped and the width of the streets steadily reduced and, eventually, I found myself downtown, where the walls had slogans in English and Arabic. This was immediately following the Arab Spring risings, which had reached the Kingdom and the television screens. My hosts, my employers and my wife would have had a collective fainting fit if they had seen me.

I attended Mass, the only westerner, and then tried to hail a taxi. Plenty went past, but none would stop. As a mild sense of anxiety set in about my predicament—lost, dark, miles from my hotel, and in an area of obvious unrest—I was rescued by a diminutive Indian gentleman, clearly amused at my attempts to hail a taxi in that area. He promised, and duly fulfilled his promise, to lead me to safety. My escape took me through a series of back alleys and past some dubious looking local characters to an area where taxis were available. I hailed one, and my saviour disappeared down one of the alleys from which we had emerged, hardly stopping for thanks.

This is my second visit to the Middle East this year (blog passim) and my second time here as an external examiner at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI-MUB). I have not ventured beyond the DA and, apart from a five-kilometre run that I worked out for the early mornings (30 degrees Celsius; 86 degrees Fahrenheit) before the temperature rises to a searing 40 degrees C (104 F), I have only been to the college and restaurants. The RCSI-MUB was established in 2005 and represents one aspect of the work of the RCSI in Dublin to expand and find business in this region. As such, the RCSI is both innovative and entrepreneurial and has established a very good name for itself in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The RCSI-MUB runs a School of Nursing and Midwifery here that provides undergraduate programmes, including a bridging programme for local diploma-educated nurses and a master’s programme. I examine the bridging programme and the master’s programme and, as my reports to the college have indicated, have been impressed with the standard of work and, in particular, by some of the master’s students, who have to present their work to members of the school in my presence. I predict that the School of Nursing and Midwifery here will become a powerhouse for academic and clinical nursing in the region.

In my previous entry from Finland, I promised to let you know if any of my colleagues have been invited to become fellows of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN). I am happy to report that Sally Chan, the subject of a previous post, has been selected; also Mark Hayter, my Hull colleague and fellow editor of Journal of Advanced Nursing. The contingent of FAAN international fellows is growing, and I am very happy to be part of that group. I always look forward to my visits to Washington, D.C., but I predict that this year is going to be more fun than usual. If you see me there in October, please say hello.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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