Dean’s Communiqué
















May 2019 | Edition 06






Five months into the ‘Year of Nursing’ in Pakistan – and one more year to go for Nursing Now!


​Dear faculty, alumni, students and friends of SONAM,


This Communiqué coincides with the third year of my association with the Aga Khan University and in particular, the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Pakistan. In the beginning, it seemed that the School was wilting and its blossom hidden from view. Now in 2019, the full potential of SONAM as a leader in the region with an international reputation is budding and ready to burst into full bloom.


From developing and strengthening partnerships with the government of Pakistan, NGOs and nursing schools across the country and worldwide; designing new educational initiatives; pioneering nurse-led practices; to growing number of PhD enrolled faculty members; our star students participating in international forums; and our outstanding alumni joining hands with us to help grow our exotic SONAM garden of extraordinary people, SONAM is abuzz with activities. You will get to read exciting new developments in this edition.













Engagement with our national stakeholders


​- Taking the national Nursing Now agenda forward


Following the national Nursing Now initiative​ that started earlier this year, led by us in partnership with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, our faculty members have been actively working with key stakeholders in the Ministry to take the agenda forward. I have been part of the stakeholder meetings in Islamabad with the Ministry officials and I am working closely with them to develop a roadmap for nursing education in Pakistan. Our faculty members, Lubna Ghazal and Shahnaz Shahid, has also recently become a part of the Ministry’s Midwifery Working Subgroup that seeks to work towards introducing and improving midwifery education programmes across the country.​


- Expanding the reach of our advocacy group


The Nursing and Midwifery Leaders’ Forum, NMLF, which we had established in early 2018, is receiving nation-wide support from thought leaders in the field. We are now moving towards introducing a leadership committee and a board that will drive a professional organisation committed to the development of nursing in the country through scholarship, professional practice and service to the community. The launch of the NMLF as the sole provider of Continuing Nursing Education for practicing nurses in Pakistan is imminent, as is the launch of the first Pakistan Nursing Journal in 2020. The NMLF is designed along the lines of the International Council of Nurses, as a professional body, and is not influenced by any industrial or political agendas. It will however, develop opinion papers and lobby locally and regionally on behalf of the profession of nursing in Pakistan.


- Provincial-level collaborations


We are working hand in hand with Shabbir Hussain, Director General Nursing for Sindh and a SONAM alumnus, who is leading the provincial initiatives for the development of nursing profession. Several of my colleagues from the School have joined him and theSpecial Secretary for Health to work on policy advocacy to improve education and practice for nurses and midwives across Sindh.  









Giving way to a new model of care




- Nurse-led practice


Our faculty Zohra Kurji and visiting scholar Zahra Shaheen, supported by my colleagues Jennifer Anastasi and Rubina Barolia and in agreement with our AKUH colleagues, will soon be commencingNurse-led Lactation Clinics at the University Hospital following necessary endorsement from the Credentialing Committee.


​The support that my colleagues and the School have received from CMO Dr Asim Belgaumi, and Drs Lumaan Sheikh, Salman Kirmani and Babar Hasan in this regard has been unswerving.


- Midwifery-led practice


In another exciting news, we have received legal approval on the shared care Midwifery-led Model, MLM, to be implemented at our secondary hospital in Kharadar. With its implementation, low-risk expecting mothers will be able to opt for a midwife to manage their care, with the skilled back up of an obstetrician colleague. Again, with the approval of our Credentialing Committee, we are hoping to begin this practice in the next couple of months.


My colleagues Rubina Barolia, Shahnaz Shahid and our Midwifery Clinical Stream members, along with Dr Lumaan Sheikh have demonstrated a superb example of how inter-professional practice can work wonders for us. Their consistent efforts right from embracing the idea to now taking it through the various committees will enable our midwives and students assume roles that will help drive down maternal and neonatal mortality in the country.


- Way forward


We hope this to be the first of many future ventures under our nurse-led practice initiatives, which will soon be followed by mental health and wellness clinics, breast cancer and palliative care clinics, cardiovascular and lifestyle change clinics, to name a few.


Driving innovation in teaching and learning





- Undergraduate curriculum review


Driven by the findings of several reviews, fuelled by the recent ‘Lahey Report’ and our own desire to be contemporary, our BScN curriculum review is in full swing. In semester 1, 2019, 95% of all courses are being delivered through the Virtual Learning Environment. Our faculty members are working hard to implement new teaching and learning practices including flipped classrooms, simulation-based training and employing blended learning approach to contemporize our pedagogical practices. I anticipate that by December 2019, we will be ready to launch our revised curriculum.


- Clinical speciality areas


The MScN enrolments haven been very healthy in 2019, with many choosing the Clinical speciality track, which is designed to prepare graduates with the skills necessary to work as an Advanced Practice Nurse in their chosen area of practice. In 2018, we had graduated six master’s-prepared nurses in Critical Care and Mental Health clinical areas and they are filling valuable clinical roles.


The School will also be launching its suite of Advanced Nursing Certificate courses for RNs in 2019 and 2020. These Certificates will help build clinical competency at an advanced level in order to prepare RNs for specialty areas such as mental health, cardiac care, family health and palliative care and oncology. These courses will be taught by our AKUH colleagues and benchmarked on international best practice standards.


- Building midwifery teaching capacity


At the 3rd MLM Consortium, held in May and chaired by Lubna Ghazal, representatives from the Department of Health, JHPIEGO, MAP, and DG Nursing held encouraging discussions around introducing a collaborative 12-month Diploma in Midwifery education, to build teaching capacity in midwifery schools, which would be an exciting initiative alongside our BScM programme.















International Nurses Day and International Day of the Midwife 2019


On May 10, SONAM and AKUH held a successful event to celebrate our nurses and midwives and called on policymakers to recognise the vital role they play in promoting universal healthcare and in defending women’s rights. Our guests, DG Nursing Sindh and Special Secretary for Health and our Trustee Dr Afaf Meleis, who had a video message for us, spoke to a packed auditorium of nurses, midwives, students and nursing leaders from educational and healthcare institutions across the province.


Our communications lead Shairose Ukanji worked closely with the University’s Office of Communications to roll out a month-long digital campaign to celebrate our nurses and midwives.





Nursing Day Cover-14






‘State of the World’s Nursing’


With Dr Sharon Brownie leaving the network recently, I was appointed as the AKDN representative to the WHO and have now become part of a committee writing the ‘State of the World’s Nursing’, which is due for publication in 2020 to coincide with the Year of Nursing.


Alumna at global nursing forum


Sobia Idrees, MScN ’15 attended a two-day international conference on Global Perspectives on Improving Population Health held in Liverpool, UK earlier this month. It was a great opportunity for her to represent nurses from Pakistan and speak about enhancing the role and voices of nurses and midwives in health policymaking. Earlier this year, Sobia had also joined us as a keynote speaker in the Nursing Now inaugural ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad.






Meet our champion students







Two AKU sponsored students, Saher Makhani and Kaleem Ahmed from SONAM and Medical College respectively, bagged some amazing awards at the MIT Grand Hack 2019 in Boston earlier this month. We are thrilled with this news!


Our current MScN students Zahira Khalfan and Afsheen Hirani, and an alumnus Umerdad Haideri, BScN ’15, were invited by Nursing Now and World Innovation Summit for Health to be part of their Pre-World Health Assembly event in Geneva.


Shimama Kanwal and Qirat Rafiq, our current undergraduate nursing students, will be participating in the first annual Global Youth Advancement Summit hosted by Michigan State University in June this year.



Reconnecting with our alumni



Alumni reunion in Islamabad



Among all the wonderful happenings this year, we have added another equally exciting one to the list – reconnecting with our alumni!


The first in the series of alumni reunions happened in Islamabad in February this year. I would once again like to send my special greetings and thanks to all our alumni in the capital who took out time and attended this gathering. As much as we enjoyed the lovely evening of presentations, discussions and dinner, we were also able to announce a gift from the Class of 1989, which was very well received.


We plan to reconnecting with our alumni outside of Pakistan as well and will be holding functions across the globe including in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. We will be rolling out the dates of these reunions very soon.



Alumni at a dinner hosted by Provost Carl Amrhein in Calgary


Earlier this month, I attended some meetings at the University of Calgary, which featured a dinner hosted by the Provost, also attended by many alumni. It was heartening to see our graduates doing so well in Calgary, and yet so committed and attached to the University and the School.


The School takes pride in all its graduates and is grateful for the contributions you all are making in your TKN capacities, supporting the school, faculty and students in many ways from teaching and providingmentorship to facilitating us in our research initiatives as well as with your generous gifts.










Faculty making strides






- PhD Enrolments


Currently, we have five faculty members enrolled in PhD programmes; three in AKU and two overseas. Additionally, five more faculty members are close to commencing their studies, which puts us right on our target to achieve our five-year goal of 12 faculty enrolments in PhDs.


Shireen Shehzad and Ambreen Tharani returned glowingly from their first stint as PhD students in Ghent University, Belgium; Lubna Ghazal and Samina Vertejee are close to enrolling at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden; and agreements with Shandong University, China are close to finalisation for Saima Sachwani to commence her PhDstudies.


Most recently, Salima Farooq and myself have been in conversation about a PhD opportunity, with some long-time colleagues at Chiang Mai University, Thailand. Dean Wipada and myself commenced the East Asian Forum of Nursing Scholars (EAFONS) over 20 years ago, which is still going strong with annual conventions and various research activities. Next year, the EAFONS conference and WHOCC will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.


-  Advanced leadership programme


As announced sometime back, Lubna Ghazal was awarded an ICN scholarship to attend the Global Nursing Leadership Institute 2019 Programme in Geneva in September 2019. She is expected to carry out some preparation work prior to her attendance that focuses on addressing the pressing issues around nursing and midwifery professions in the country as well as using the acquired knowledge and skills to continue the work upon her return. To be selected from amongst 30 nurses worldwide for this advanced leadership programme is a huge achievement and we are proud of her.


- More local collaborations


Dr Tazeen Ali has worked out a collaboration with the Poverty Eradication Initiative, a local NGO, in evaluating their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and hospital-acquired infection studies in three selected districts of Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas and Larkana, through the conduct of evaluative research by AKU-SONAM. She has also recently returned from a visit to Karolinska Institutet where she was involved in her post-doctorate work.





It is heartening to see that our students, alumni and faculty members are developing as emerging nursing leaders and utilizing every unique opportunity to take part in the national and international nursing activities. Such a proud moment for us.One voice!


All the best,








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