27 May 2014

Finland to United Kingdom to Bahrain

MANAMA, Bahrain—There could be no greater contrast than between the lush greenness and clean air of Finland and the scorched, dehydrated, and dusty landscape of Bahrain. That contrast is even more striking when you have only 24 hours between the two places with a very short visit home. The visit home was even shorter than planned, due to being stranded in Helsinki by one airline, having to transfer to another airline and another city in the UK, and finding my way home after public transport was closed. Such are the joys of international travelling, which some look upon in envy. As ever, I thoroughly enjoy what I do around the world, but the process of getting there can be tedious.

I was in Turku, as I was last year at this time, to give sessions on writing for publication to postgraduate research students at the University of Turku. This time, it was a Journal of Advanced Nursing (JAN) show, as I was with fellow editor and Hull colleague Mark Hayter, PhD, FAAN, professor of sexual and reproductive health at the University of Hull. The sessions were enjoyable, and the students interacted well.

The weather was fantastic, the food excellent, and it is always good to catch up with international colleagues. If there is a link between Turku and Bahrain, it is the open-access journal I edit, Nursing Open. One of the editors, Riitta Suhonen, PhD, RN, works in Turku, and, here in Bahrain, I am with Seamus Cowman, PhD, FAAN, who is now head of nursing at RCSI Bahrain, affiliated with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). Cowman is another editor of Nursing Open and, incidentally, the first Irish nurse to be elected a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Bahrain continues to develop since my previous visit and, despite the desiccated landscape and dusty Middle Eastern backdrop, it has paradisiacal elements as land is reclaimed along the coast and small, exclusive communities emerge. I should be used to living in hotels—not all of which are five-star, believe me—but the luxury of the Gulf Hotel, Bahrain, and the tranquility and service of its Platinum Club provide an insight into a lifestyle that, but for generous hosts, I will never be able to afford. The dilemma is: Do you eschew it for fear of getting used to it and missing it; or do you indulge, knowing it will rarely be on offer again? As I stare out over the night lights of Bahrain from the top floor of the hotel and the waitress pours me another (free) drink, I think you see how I solved the dilemma. I’m going to miss this one day!

The purpose of my visit to Bahrain is to work as an external examiner on the master’s in nursing programme at the RCSI. I examine the same programme in Dublin, and part of the job is to ensure that the same standards are applied in both locations, on behalf of the RCSI and on behalf of the National University of Ireland, which is the degree-awarding body.

The Nursing Open theme continues, as one of the editorial board members, Catherine McCabe, PhD, RN, assistant professor, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, arrives today in her capacity as external examiner for the undergraduate nursing programme. I am very pleased that my contract has been extended for another year and that I will also be starting as an examiner next month at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. By sheer coincidence, my fellow examiner is none other than Cowman from RCSI. The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), is represented here by the relatively newly formed Rufaida Honor Nursing Society, which is seeking to become a full chapter of STTI. Catherine O'Neill, senior lecturer, RCSI Bahrain, played a major role in establishing it, along with local colleagues.

Running, climbing, and football
My efforts to get out on the rocks are being thwarted by an inordinate amount of travel, both in and out of the United Kingdom. This is probably the busiest year of my life. However, I continue to train indoors, and combine rock climbing with running. Finland was a joy to run in, but my 0530 run today in 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the sun, had me almost at my physiological limits. I don’t understand why this should make your legs feel as if they had lead weights attached. In addition, the expatriate workers waiting for their transport to work shared incredulous looks as I panted past. To make a living, they are forced to work in this heat. I could be in bed in an air-conditioned room.

Finally, the UK football (soccer) season has ended, and the highlight of the English season, the Football Association (FA) Cup included, for the first time in the club’s 110-year history “The Tigers,” my local Hull City team. The match was played at Wembley, the 90,000-seat national football stadium in North London. The opposition was the mighty Arsenal, a North London club, and 25,000 of us made the journey south to watch the game, including the three Watsons pictured.

We lost, but only after taking a 2-0 lead and taking them into a period of extra time. Nobody expected that, and I think we were happier than the Arsenal fans. We stayed to see Prince William award the FA Cup runners-up medals and departed, elated. My voice took a week to recover, and I look back on what was, surely, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.

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