“When you see a possible opportunity show up, take it. You never know what might happen,” said Deborah Lindell (NUR ’03), the Marvin E. and Ruth Durr Denekas Professor at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and a new Fulbright Scholar who departed in September for an eight-month sojourn to Northwest Kenya.
Through her Fulbright research project, “Advancing Nursing Education in Northwest Kenya,” Lindell is working with two regional entities, Turkana University College (TUC) and the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI). The institute, where Lindell is staying, is an international research facility conducting research and education in paleontology, archeology and geology. TUC is a constituent college of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and the first public university established in Northwest Kenya.
In preparing her research proposal, Lindell gathered information on regional data pertaining to health concerns, workforce supply and differences between regions to justify the needs for the areas in which she’ll be working.
Lindell’s primary purpose will be to help the college survey nurses there about their interest in obtaining a bachelor’s degree and develop a nursing program curriculum likely to be implemented as an RN-to-BSN program. She also is teaching a public health nursing course.
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers opportunities for U.S. academics, administrators and professionals to teach, research and complete professional projects and attend seminars abroad. Sponsored by the U.S. government, the program has fostered mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries since 1946.
International travel and teaching are old hat for Lindell, who has previously taught public health nursing to students in Asia.
“When I taught public health in Vietnam and China, I taught the universal concept—like what is epidemiology and what is a community assessment, but I let them shape it,” she said. “What I teach has to reflect their health systems.”
Through her travels as a nursing educator, Lindell said her experiences have helped her complete her understanding of how nursing is viewed and practiced in other countries.
“Nursing is in a different place in other countries. I’m learning just as much as they are,” she said. “My approach is to be respectful of where their needs are. My goal is to use my knowledge and skills to facilitate them to achieve their goals.”
Lindell said her Fulbright experience has been fortunate because she started the application process with in-country host institutions. Many Fulbright scholars know their research project topic but have to find an opportunity for implementation.
“I had weekly Zoom meetings all last year with the Turkana Basin Institute, and email communication with people at the college,” she said. “I am very excited for this opportunity.”