American University of Beirut

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Overview of the Curriculum Innovation

The American University of Beirut (AUB) places senior undergraduate nursing students in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work directly with communities and individual families.  This program has been in place for over 5 years.  Recently the Ministry of Health has also started to develop an emphasis on community health.  A representative from the Ministry speaks at class with the senior undergraduate students to provide a governmental context for the NGO community health engagement.  During their assignment with the community-based NGO students are assigned a family to work with.  They are engaged in their community health practicum for 9 hours:  7 hours per week in NGO health centers and 2 hours in home visits, over a 16 week semester.  During that time the students conduct a family assessment and visit with their assigned family every week.  Evaluations are formative and summative at the end of the semester.  During the semester students set objectives for the week and discuss their progress in post-conferences.  At the end of the semester they review the achievements of the semester against the course learning objectives. 

Teaching an understanding of community nursing is a challenge for AUB because of the very strong demand for acute care nursing and the high degree of interest in acute care technical skills on the part of most undergraduate nursing students.  This challenge has developed in part because of the disruption caused by the lengthy civil war in Lebanon as well as the current threat of conflict posed by the Syrian civil war.  In times of war and disaster the acute care needs of the population tend to dominate the need for community-based care and care for chronic conditions.  Despite these challenges, the engagement of the senior undergraduate nursing students with community NGOs and families has increased students’ appreciation for patient education and health promoting activities in the community and in acute care settings.


Mary Arevian, RN, MPH
American University of Beirut