Haiti and Ireland were chosen for comparison because the two countries have curiously different histories of nursing education development. In Ireland, the development of nursing education was similar to that of the countries of Western Europe and North America: after decades of prevalence of the apprenticeship model, the necessity for new approaches to nursing education was recognized in the late 1990s (O’Dwyer, 2007); in Haiti, very few people had access to professional health care, and new vision of nursing and nursing education had not been introduced until recently (Garfield & Berryman, 2012). Therefore, it can be expected that nursing education in Ireland is more developed; however, a closer look at the two countries is needed.
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Political History and Development of Nursing Education
For more than two centuries, the country was “plagued by unstable, weak, or exploitative governments” (Garfield & Berryman, 2012, p. 17), and this political situation led to widespread poverty, low level of social security, and lack of access to both professional health care and professional education. However, the earthquake of 2010 drew much attention of the international community to Haiti, and the international support helped introduce modern nursing education strategies.
Because of the political turmoil of the second half of the 20th century, Ireland was one of the last countries to adopt nursing education as part of university education. A major political factor that facilitated this process is the labor rights movements of nursing care providers in the 1990s.
In Haiti, the positive change toward new nursing education was the result of international support and external assistance; in Ireland, the change was the result of internal processes and nurses’ struggle for their rights.
Government and Nursing Organizations Influencing Nursing Education
The government, and the Ministry of Health and Population particularly, failed to provide adequate health care system or professional health care training; Haiti was the country with the smallest number of nurses in the Americas (Garfield & Berryman, 2012). However, after the earthquake, 600 charitable NGOs appear to cooperate with the Ministry, which was a significant contribution to further development of many spheres, including nursing education.
Unionism played a crucial role in improving nursing education. Nurses on strikes all over Ireland in the late 1990s forced the government to adopt better standards and improve conditions (Briskin, 2012). The establishment of the Commission on Nursing by the Minister of Health in 1997 led to the modern recognition of the role of nurses in delivering high-quality care.
In Ireland, active nursing organizations forced the government to pay more attention to the profession; in Haiti, influential nursing organizations had been virtually absent, but a large number of them emerged after the earthquake and played a significant role in the profession’s development, including better education.
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Current System of Nursing Education
Five public and five private nursing schools exist; after three years, baccalaureate-level graduates have to pass an examination to be registered (“Prospective students,” 2017). In comparison with the past, the nursing education has shifted from the post-high school level to the university level.
Four-year programs exist; the final year is dedicated to practice. Due to the shift toward university-level education for nurses, “nursing students enjoy the same privileges as other college students” (O’Dwyer, 2007, p. 138).
In Ireland, the new form of nursing education was introduced in 2002, while in Haiti it was introduced around 2010. In both countries, nursing students receive higher education; in Ireland, however, programs are longer and incorporate a year of extensive practice.
Post-Graduate (Masters) Education
Introduction of a fourth year of education and master’s preparation is recognized as a major “way forward” for the development of nursing education in the country. It is suggested to pay more attention to practice as part of education. A five-year global health project did not imply the creation of postgraduate nursing education in Haiti until 2017 (“Improving nursing education in Haiti,” 2014).
One of the major perceived benefits of postgraduate diploma programs in Ireland is flexibility (Smyth, Houghton, Cooney, & Casey, 2012). Students appreciate the wide range of opportunities to practice, travel, and work in different areas while they earn their master’s degrees in nursing.
While Ireland has postgraduate diploma programs for nurses, Haiti currently lacks master’s education for them. However, in both countries, it is stressed that postgraduate education should emphasize practice-centeredness of education, not theory-centeredness.
Conclusion: Reflections on Nursing Education
As it was expected, nursing education in Ireland is generally more developed than in Haiti; for example, there are postgraduate diploma programs in Ireland, while there are none in Haiti, and the graduate programs in Ireland are longer and incorporate more practice in comparison to such programs in Haiti.
However, what was surprising about exploring nursing education in the two countries is that Ireland had a long history of evolving nursing education, while Haiti’s achievements had been rather modest before 2010, but today the levels of nursing education in the two countries are comparable. It shows how extensive internal movement and support from the international community can help a country create a better nursing education system in a rather short period of time.
Briskin, L. (2012). Resistance, mobilization and militancy: Nurses on strike. Nursing Inquiry, 19(4), 285-296.
Garfield, R. M., & Berryman, E. (2012). Nursing and nursing education in Haiti. Nursing Outlook, 60(1), 16-20.
O’Dwyer, P. (2007). Looking back… moving forward: The educational preparation of nurses in Ireland. Nursing Education Perspectives, 28(3), 136-139.
Prospective students. (2017). Web.
Smyth, S., Houghton, C., Cooney, A., & Casey, D. (2012). Students’ experiences of blended learning across a range of postgraduate programmes. Nurse Education Today, 32(4), 464-468.