In the fall 2012 the nursing program at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland received one of 76 support awards made in a new collaborative effort between the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).  The funding comes from USIP, a congressional established entity focusing on resolving international conflict. Awards were made to colleges, universities, and public libraries in 32 states.  The initial group of awardees included 15 community colleges.

Anne Arundel Community College (AACC ) received an award for a speakers series titled “Global Health and Peacebuilding.”

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AACC’s efforts are designed to raise the profile of international conflict and peacebuilding and encourage community college health sciences students, particularly nursing students, to consider careers in global healthcare.

On Tuesday, March 5, the first program was held at AACC before a group of faculty and students interested in global issues and peacebuilding.  The presenter was Dr. Mark Steinbeck from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  Steinbeck provided the audience with a general orientation to the work of the ICRC, including the history of its humanitarian efforts and need to operate in an impartial and non-political way.   He talked about his own experiences as a surgeon working in Afghanistan and other conflict zones.   An important part of his talk focused on the “Health Care in Danger” initiative (http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/faq/health-care-in-danger-faq-2011-08-05.htm) which focuses on improving safety for healthcare workers in series conflict zones.   Audience questions included those on careers in the field as well as the psychological toll on workers.

Steinbeck urged students to explore opportunities through their local Red Cross chapters, keep abreast of international trends and issues, and attend programs such as this series.  He indicated that there is a psychological stress on workers, but that he is an optimist and believes that even “small band aid approaches” over time can make an important difference.

Lena Choudhary, JD, MS, RN, an assistant professor in AACC’s nursing program, is the coordinator of the series.  She commented that “it is important that healthcare workers today  – especially those coming from community colleges  which are seeing  growing international populations – are aware of the critical needs in war zones and support the efforts of health care professionals doing battlefield work.”

There will be two more speakers in the series. On April 1 Debby Woglom from Elmira College in New York will discuss the course that she offers to nursing students on humanitarian law. Her program will start with a 3 p.m. faculty workshop followed at 5 p.m. general presentation to the college community.  Finally on April 29 at 5 p.m. Kelly Grimshaw, a nurse with Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) will talk about her work and the challenges of nurses working in conflict zones.

For more information about this series contact Lena Choudhary at lchoudhary@aacc.edu or visit http://www.aacc.edu/nursing/speaker.cfm.

The spring application cycle for the USIP/IIE Public Education for Peacebuilding Support program is now open with applications due on May 3, 2012.  Go to: http://www.iie.org/Programs/USIP-Support/How-to-Apply#How-to-Apply. Community colleges are urged to apply.