News>Craig Joint Theater Hospital team helps build Afghan nursing foundation
Afghan National Army soldiers Malika Faqiri (left) and Laila Farahi help with an Afghan woman Oct. 14, 2009, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The two nurses attended a special two-week mentorship program at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital here to work alongside U.S. doctors and nurses to hone their medical skills and get first-hand experience with trauma-based care. The two soldiers were the first women to attend the special program. (Courtesy photo)
Afghan National Army soldier Laila Farahi (left) bandages a patient's leg Oct. 14, 2009, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. She attended a special two-week mentorship program at the Criag Joint Theater Hospital here to work alongside U.S. doctors and nurses to hone her medical skills and get firsthand experience with trauma-based care. She was one of the first women to ever attend the special program. (Courtesy photo)
Afghan National Army soldier Laila Farahi (left) assists 1st. Lt. Nicole Pries with a patient Oct. 14, 2009, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Lieutenant Pries is an intensive care ward nurse deployed from the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy photo)
Afghan National Army soldier Malika Faqiri (left) a female assists with a patient about to undergo surgery Oct. 14, 2009, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. She attended a special two-week mentorship program at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital here to work alongside U.S. doctors and nurses to hone her medical skills and get firsthand experience with trauma-based care. She was one of the first women to ever attend the program. (Courtesy photo)
by Tech. Sgt. John Jung
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
10/14/2009 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Members of the Craig Joint Theater Hospital here recently began a mentorship program to help Afghan nursing.
Malika Faqiri and Laila Farahi, two female Afghan National Army soldiers, attended a special two-week mentorship program here at the CJTH to work alongside U.S. doctors and nurses to hone their medical skills and get firsthand experience with trauma-based care, and were the the first women to attend the program.
The mentorship program was the final step in a yearlong, trauma-based program designed to produce the first formally-trained nurses in Afghanistan. The yearlong nursing program is the result of collaborative efforts between Task Force Medical East, the CJTH and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan and Afghan National Security Forces, both located in Kabul. At the completion of a year's worth of training the students are equivalent to licensed professional or licensed vocational nurses.
After graduating from the program, the nurses return to Kabul's Afghan Military National Hospital and are then sent throughout the country to lead ANA medical care and serve as mentors to their peers.
"The nursing program is an answer to a nursing shortage that is happening within Afghan National Security Forces," said Lt. Col. Vivian Harris, a CSTC-A chief nurse who is deployed from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. "The total focus is on nursing and the goal is to produce nurses at the end of one year that are able to take care of trauma patients wherever they are working."
Western medical care and procedures are very different from what Ms. Faqiri and Ms. Farahi are used to they said through Najla Momand, an Army contractor who serves as a translator and nursing instructor for the two women. Ms. Faqiri and Ms. Farahi concentrated on 36 core skills, including firsthand care of patients, administering medication and learning best treatment practices for trauma patients.
Getting Ms. Faqiri and Ms. Farahi to the CJTH to learn trauma care was no easy task, said Ms. Momand, who has been working for the Army for two years.
"Afghan culture does not allow women to leave their home-village unaccompanied by a close male relative," she said. "I was luckily able to broker a deal with the village elders to let them come here to learn because of my good working relationship with the village in the past."
Cultural and personal boundaries were tested and sometimes fell during the two week mentorship program.
"We treat anyone who is brought in due to combat," said 1st Lt. Nicole Pries, an intensive care ward nurse deployed from the David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB, Calif. "Sometimes it's a local villager, sometimes it's an enemy fighter."
"The ANA nurses were a really big help with us. A lot of times when (Americans) come here there is a big cultural barrier between the patients and us," said the San Antonio native. "It's frustrating not speaking their language but still having to get across to them what we need to do to take care of them. However, once the ANA nurses come in, they have a cultural bond with them and they know how to talk to them and they make a connection."
Connections were even made with the enemy.
Ms. Faquiri's husband was killed by the Taliban years ago, but she did not hesitate to help an enemy fighter who was being treated at the CJTH. The enemy fighter stopped thrashing around and spitting at the doctors and nurses administering to him, when she spoke to him in his own language. She was compassionate and caring despite the fact he was the enemy, according to the CJTH hospital staff.
Through the translator, she told us that she wasn't afraid of the enemy and was proud of her role in the ANA.
"Malika wore the ANA title like a badge of honor. She's very proud to be in the army," said Ms. Momand.
"Nursing is not just from textbooks. It takes compassion, excellent patient care and a heart for whoever you're treating, even if they don't like you," Lieutenant Pries said. It's been a humbling experience working with the ANA nurses and being a part of this milestone in their training."
Ms. Farahi said thorugh Ms. Momand, "I'm very excited to have learned new nursing skills and look forward to using these skills. My hope is to take back the medical knowledge I have learned (at the CJTH) to my people."
"It is a historic time in Afghanistan for building the medical infrastructure so that Afghans can care for their own people," said U.S. Army Capt. Mark Ebeling, director of the two-week medical mentorship program. Captain Ebeling is deployed from Fort Snelling, Minn.
"I'm very honored that I'm here at this time," Captain Ebeling said. "I think we've taught them well and impressed upon the students what a monumental responsibility they have in front of them -- the responsibility of training others and forging the future of Afghan nursing and health care for the future."
11/26/2009 10:46:13 AM ET Hello. I'd like to know if Afghan Nursing Foundation is interested to have VSAT systems for its activities in AF or the US camp assisting it. Please be in touch. thank you.