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Posted: 7/24/2006

Five graduate nursing students from the American University in Beirut (AUB) who now are unable to return to their homes in Lebanon have received an extended welcome from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Nursing (JHHDON).  

AUB masters of nursing science students Sara Abboud, Suha Ballout, Rida Gharzeddine, Grace Khatcherian, and Rafika Zaatari had just completed a seven-week clinical nursing residency at the School and Hospital and planned to return home this week.  As airports and ports remain closed and transportation efforts focus on bringing travelers out of war-torn Lebanon, Hopkins Nursing has reached out to help the stranded students. 

All five students will continue to be hosted by the School and the Department of Nursing until they are able to leave for home.  Arrangements have been made to extend and cover the costs of their temporary housing and living expenses, and each is being offered a variety of opportunities during their prolonged stay that will enhance their clinical experiences, including attendance at graduate level nursing courses, participation in rotations at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and guidance and help on their dissertations.

Dr. Martha N. Hill, dean of the School of Nursing, noted that "despite the tragic situation, each of these dedicated nurses now can turn this time of waiting into a highly productive experience.   We're ready to help them receive the maximum educational benefit and to support them during this crisis."   

In a group statement expressing thanks to faculty and staff of the School and Hospital, the five students described how their visit to the U.S. and Johns Hopkins had created a "full agenda of hope, enthusiasm and determination to return to Lebanon and contribute to the nursing profession there."  But as the news broke of the conflict, they found their dreams to be "traumatized by the horrifying pictures of our beloved country."  All noted however that as Lebanese, "we learned to be optimistic" and now plan to make good use of their extended stay at Hopkins.  "We hope to reach a cease fire soon… [and] to stand up again and rebuild our country."   

Throughout this past year, deans, faculty and students from both JHUSON and AUB have worked to lay the foundation for collaboration beneficial to both schools of nursing. JHUSON faculty and a nursing graduate student have helped develop plans for an AUB Center for Community-Based Care, including a community health assessment, and have explored mechanisms for assisting AUB faculty in conducting scientific research, an important step in the formation of doctoral programs for both medical and nursing students at the school. JHUSON had anticipated sending more students to AUB Medical Center and the School of Nursing for a variety of learning experiences in a continuing scholarly exchange program. 

Individuals and organizations wishing to help the JHUSON/JHHDON support the students during their stay may send contributions to:  JHUSON Development Office, Room 529, 525 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205-2110.  Checks should be made payable to JHUSON and noted "AUB Students."  For more information, call 410-955-4284.

JHUSON Welcomes Lebanese Students.  From left to right:  Rafika Zaatari, Rida Gharzeddine, JHUSON Dean Martha Hill, JHUSON Director of the Office of Global Nursing Jane Shivnan, Sarah Abboud, Suha Ballout, and Grace Khatcherian.