HONOLULU — Nursing students on three Hawaiian islands will simultaneously join around a poi bowl this evening, to celebrate the inauguration of a landmark new course designed to make them even better care givers by teaching them to be sensitive to cultural differences that can impact their patients’ health.
“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often,” said Dr. Joyce Vogler, the faculty member from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH) who developed the course. “Tonight for the first time, nursing students from the UH Manoa Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program on the islands of Maui, Kaua‘i and O‘ahu will come together to learn skills that haven’t been taught to nurses at this level before.”
Vogler said the students participating are senior nursing students, those closest to beginning their careers serving the public.
The new course also represents a partnership between the University of Hawai‘i’s medical and nursing schools. Faculty members teaching the course include physicians and PhDs from the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) and faculty from the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene.
JABSOM is the nation’s only accredited medical school with a clinical department dedicated to the care of an indigenous people, Native Hawaiians.
As the class begins, a Hawaiian chant, or oli, and a blessing will take place before students join in taking from a communal poi bowl. The students on Maui and Kaua‘i, joining via teleconference, will each have a communal poi bowl at their sites.
UH’s nursing programs have worked for some time to develop a shared curriculum so that students may graduate with their associate degree and continue seamlessly into their four-year nursing degree without having to relocate to O‘ahu for their upper level courses.
Vogler, who is retiring at the end of the year after more than 22 years at UH M?noa, helped shape the joined curriculum, and she sees the three-island cultural competency course beginning tonight as a dream come true. This course in particular follows up on research and interviews she did with Native Hawaiian patients in which she found many were disillusioned with a lack of cultural sensitivity demonstrated by their providers.
“It’s very important to understand the cultural aspect of health management,” said Vogler. “We want to teach our nurses and allied health care providers to interact appropriately with not only Native Hawaiians, but also Pacific Islanders and Asians when they are caring for these people. That includes giving students information so that when they go into the community, they become culturally sensitive to issues that might be causing detrimental health behaviors, or homelessness, or other situations.”
The class will incorporate the writings and teachings of Native Hawaiian physicians Dr. S. Kalani Brady and Dr. DeeAnn Carpenter; Dr. J. Keawe Kaholokula, PhD, chair of JABSOM’s DNHH; and Dr. Noreen Mokuau, PhD, dean of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Also participating will be Nalani Minton, director of the I‘ke Au Pono program; Dr. Mary Boland, dean of SONDH; and Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of JABSOM.