The Louise Herrington School of Nursing was awarded a $652,800 grant from the United States Agency for International Development American Schools and Hospitals Abroad to partner with the Bangalore Baptist Hospital in India.
“It is so important because of development of both the nursing school in India and the hospital and its something they themselves at least would not have been able to do,” said Dr. Rebekah Naylor, who was a missionary surgeon at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital and was the founder of the adjoining Naylor nursing school. “It will be important in education, training nurses in India, helping them empower women and provide better healthcare for the people they serve.”
The grant will fund a new simulation education center, where patient experiences can be simulated, and a research center. In addition ,the grant will also provide housing for nurses.
“In India it is very common for nurses to live on the campus or close to the campus because most of them are women and it is not safe for them to be walking back and forth in the dark,” said Dr. Shelby Garner, assistant professor at the School of Nursing. “Some of the women we spoke with when we were doing research for the grant would come to the hospital several hours early and just sit and not be paid because they had to get there before it got dark since it wasn’t safe for them to travel back and forth. That’s another great thing about the center. Its going to address some of those needs.”
There are many challenges nurses in India must overcome due to historical, religious and cultural factors within the country. When the caste system was predominant many years ago, nurses were considered to be part of the lowest caste because they touched people, blood, body fluids and individuals from the opposite sex, Garner said.
Since nurses were not respected, many left India to practice in other countries, causing has a nursing shortage. However, since nurses have been able to make more money practicing in other countries, it has helped the profession.
“When they leave they can send money back home, and that whole process raises their status in their families,” Garner said. “They have the ability for social mobility and it is making nursing more respectable.”
Naylor just returned home from a trip in India on Thursday and said individuals at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital are excited with the partnership.
“They are very grateful and they appreciate the involvement of Baylor and the hard work they are doing,” Naylor said.
Since Baylor began working with the Bangalore Baptist Hospital five years ago, both undergraduate and graduate students have been able to participate in mission trips to the hospital in India.
“If we look at our mission at Baylor, we are preparing men and women for world wide service, and this is really an example of a way we can do that,” Garner said. “One of our core convictions at Baylor is that we will integrate Christian faith with intellectual life, so this project is a perfect example of those two things coming together because we have lots of opportunities there to be able to minister and pray with patients and conduct research.”
Both Naylor and Garner are hoping the partnership continues in the future with collaborative research projects.
“My biggest takeaway is that as we try to do God’s work, follow his direction and in His name seek resources and partnerships, he will provide above and beyond anything we could imagine,” Naylor said.