December 9, 2005

VUSN seeks collaboration with PAHO

Featured Image

Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, left, Antonio Hernandez, PAHO regional adviser on Health Services Engineering, center, and Joxel Garcia, M.D., PAHO deputy director.
photo by Mary Donaldson

VUSN seeks collaboration with PAHO

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has started on the path to becoming a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Collaborating Center.

PAHO has a rich tradition of working across borders, cultures and disciplines in its quest to facilitate health care access for all. The organization's Collaborating Centers play key roles in promoting research and health-related activities throughout the Northern Hemisphere and in connection with the World Health Organization.

Only seven of the 60 PAHO Collaborating Centers in North America are housed in schools of nursing.

Led by Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., VUSN recently hosted a site visit from several PAHO officials as part of the Collaborating Center review process.

“PAHO is an incredibly powerful organization that partners with institutions and organizations to focus on the quality of health care in Central and South America. We are privileged to have their attention regarding our expertise in disaster planning, systems management, and online education and we look forward to identifying additional ways to collaborate,” said Conway-Welch.

The two-day visit included presentations on VUSN's capabilities in informatics, research, practice management, emergency management and academics as well as highlighting Vanderbilt's resources in global health.

Joxel Garcia, M.D., deputy director for PAHO and former commissioner of health for Connecticut, focused on three main issues: cost-effective health care interventions; training health care staff; and e-health issues. VUSN showcased programs such as the Vine Hill clinic's digital retinopathy screenings that encourage low-income patients to get free screenings as a way to check eye and overall vascular health.

Garcia was also interested in VUSN's successful distance learning program and the work of Peter Buerhaus, Ph.D., Valere Potter professor in Nursing and associate dean of Research, in examining the ongoing nursing shortage – a crucial issue, particularly in the Caribbean where there are many physicians, but few qualified nurses.

“This has been a very rewarding, insightful experience where we were exposed to leaders in nursing, ethics, policy and public health,” said Garcia. “It's the beginning of many possibilities of collaboration with Vanderbilt School of Nursing to the betterment of health in the Americas.”

Becoming an official PAHO Collaborating Center is a rigorous two-year process that involves additional site visits by PAHO technical staff and detailed project planning.