Global Health Nursing

Introducing the new Center for Global Health Nursing

global-health-desktop-homepageThe UW School of Nursing has named Drs. Sarah Gimbel and Pamela Kohler the first co-directors of its new Center for Global Health Nursing. The center, which will improve health locally and globally through global research, collaboration, and training, launched in January.

The center harnesses the existing expertise and experience of UW School of Nursing faculty and students and will partner with local, national and global nursing organizations and academic institutions. It joins a network of UW academics working in global health research and training across disciplines and across borders to improve health and address questions of health disparities locally and worldwide.
“This new center builds on a rich history of interprofessional global health research, practice, scholarship and advocacy by School of Nursing faculty,” said Dr. Azita Emami, the Robert G. and Jean A. Reid Dean of the UW School of Nursing. “It represents the beginning of an exciting era at our school.”

About the co-directors

Sarah Gimbel

Dr. Sarah Gimbel

Kohler joined the UW School of Nursing faculty in 2012 and is an assistant professor in Psychosocial and Community Health Nursing department; Dr. Gimbel joined the faculty in 2013 and is an assistant professor in the Family and Child Nursing department.

In addition to their roles in the School of Nursing, both Gimbel and Kohler have longstanding affiliations with the UW Department of Global Health, and were part of the School of Nursing Global Health envisioning workgroup. The workgroup was developed in response to student requests for more formal opportunities to learn about global health nursing and culturally congruent care.

Both co-directors are internationally recognized, accomplished researchers. Gimbel is an implementation scientist whose research focuses on improving service delivery, health information systems and the translation of proven interventions into practice through quality improvement, process flow mapping, operations research and overall health systems strengthening. Her current work targets prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by designing and evaluating tools and associated approaches so nurse managers can address barriers to care services and implement best practices. She currently has research projects in Mozambique, Kenya and Peru.

Pamela Kohler

Dr. Pamela Kohler

Kohler’s research explores social and programmatic barriers to service along the HIV care continuum, including delivery of HIV testing, uptake and retention in HIV care programs, and access to sex education. She currently leads studies related to adolescent engagement in HIV care and a field epidemiology training program. She has worked in Jamaica, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi.
“Nurses provide the majority of healthcare worldwide, yet we haven’t been widely engaged in research or at major policy levels,” Kohler said. “Particularly in research, there is so much room for nursing perspectives. Our clinical expertise, analytic training and conceptual frameworks are tremendous assets in identifying solutions for improving health and health care.”

Kindling an interest in global health research

Kohler said she hopes the new center will kindle an interest in global health research among future nurse leaders and nurse scientists.
“By working in research, our future nurse leaders and nurse scientists can not only provide high quality care, but can also identify best practices for health care, inform health policy and contribute to improvements in health,” she said.

The center also will increase educational opportunities for students who aspire to become global citizens, learn from different cultures and health settings, and share and contribute their knowledge and compassion.

Global health nurses have the unique ability to be able to share effective approaches and strategies across wildly different nursing contexts. The new center will work to bridge divides between highly and less-resourced environments through partnership in nursing research, education and service.
“Nurses from the United States have experience effectively advocating for their decisions and hold management roles within the health system – often this is not the case in other, less-resourced environments,” Gimbel said. “Conversely, in sub-Saharan Africa, I have seen examples of nurse and community coordination which maximizes limited resources and increases community ownership and joint decision-making. We have much to learn from these experiences and approaches in the U.S.”

Future educational offerings

Gimbel said she hopes the center will eventually offer more formal educational offerings to nursing students, beyond existing study abroad opportunities.
“We hope to support the development of a global health clinical certificate program, which would combine some of the existing nonclinical global health certificate coursework with the hard clinical skills needed in global health nursing and other disciplines – in particular for students interested in working in shorter term relief operations,” Gimbel said. “I imagine a collaboration across other UW health sciences schools. These kind of collaborations are ideal for nursing to lead as communicators across health service delivery.”
Gimbel and Kohler were selected as part of an internal search for candidates. The positions will report to Dr. Pamela Mitchell, executive associate dean.
“Our school is so fortunate to have had so many qualified, passionate faculty members apply for this important position,” Mitchell said. “I am confident that Sarah and Pam will do a wonderful job and will approach their work building the new center with the same collaborative, innovative spirit that they bring to their current research, teaching and service in global health.”