In June 2009, the Faculty of Nursing at Kabul Medical University (KMU), Kabul, Afghanistan, took on the intensive task of writing their academic polices. The project was part of a series of activities planned under an agreement between KMU and Aga Khan University (AKU), Karachi, Pakistan, to strengthen nursing education in Afghanistan. FAIMER Institute 2007 Fellow Zahra Ladhani from the Shifa College of Nursing in Islamabad, Pakistan, facilitated the process, which was comprised of two parts:
- Needs assessment: This component included a review of existing documents and reports as well as a meeting with KMU’s senior management and ministries of higher education and public health to identify individuals to either draft policies or assist in the policy approval process.
- Policy writing workshop: Participants included the entire team of academic staff from the Faculty of Nursing; senior management of KMU, including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and the head of each department; and two faculty members from each department and from the hospital, where students train in clinical practice.
The outcome of the workshop was a policy handbook, which detailed policies in following areas:
- Academic Program: duration of semesters, credit hours, teaching strategies, formative and summative assessments, attendance criteria, passing grades.
- Academic Setting: governance and administration, academic environment, resources (library, computer lab, skills lab, science lab, etc.).
- Academic Staff: appointment and promotion, career and salary structure, and personnel policies.
- Student Body: admission criteria, entrance protocols, etc.
The policy areas selected for KMU were derived from international literature on medical education, in particular “International Standards in Basic Medical Education,” developed by the World Federation for Medical Education. Policy handbooks from AKU School of Nursing and Shifa College of Nursing in Pakistan were also used as examples.
KMU’s efforts to improve nursing education are part of major health care reform efforts taking place throughout Afghanistan. With support from international donor communities, the Afghan Ministries of Public Health and Higher Education have invested considerable resources toward reconstructing the war-torn health care system. The basic infrastructure for delivery of health care is now in place for most parts of the country, but well-qualified human resources, in particular qualified nursing staff, are still lacking. To address this issue KMU established its own Faculty of Nursing and implemented an undergraduate program in nursing in 2006 with support from the government of Japan. Since 2009, the AKU School of Nursing has also provided ongoing technical support to this program.