Before we established the nursing programme, we had about 30 Greenland-born nurses in Greenland.
At that time, all nurses were trained in Denmark, because there was no nursing programme in Greenland. Since we started the programme in the mid '90s and until today - we have graduated 147 nurses born in Greenland, says Suzanne Møller.
How does the Greenlandic nursing programme differ from the Danish?
As a nurse in small and isolated communities, the working conditions in Greenland are quite demanding, because the work demands a lot of the individual nurse's professionalism and independence.
The task spectrum of a nurse in Greenland is just wider. That is partly one of the reasons that the nursing programme is ½ year longer than the programme in Denmark. During the 4 years that the programme lasts, the student must become equipped to solve a lot of complex health tasks, and often on their own.
Research and nursing programme - under the same roof
In parallel with developing the nursing programme, in close cooperation with the health department and health related organisations, the institute has also developed the research centre Greenland Center for Health Research (GCHR). It has showed that both research as well as teaching benefit from being under the same roof. The research subjects cover af wide range, and the articles can be found on Ilisimatusarfik's website. The centre also participates in educating specialists in general medicine.
What is the reason for also establishing a research centre?
The health science research has traditionally been conducted by Danish researchers and institutions, and created considerable knowledge, but it is anchored outside Greenland. With the establishment of GCHR at Ilisimatusarfik, the anchoring of research and researchers in Greenland have increased significantly. Both the nursing programme as well as the health service benefit.
What is today's challenges for the nursing programme?
There are still challenges in recruiting teachers, especially in the fields of anatomy, physiology and microbiology. The shortage of teachers has forced us to think in new solutions, so now we are working with a Danish University College concerning blended learning. Blended learning is to use different teaching methods: A teacher from the Danish University College offers instruction firstly in the classroom during the start of the teaching, and then the teaching is conducted online via Adobe (via the Internet, ed.) - and at the end of the course, the teacher is present in the classroom again, and of course also during the exam.
It is also a condition that some students have children during the education. We support them the best we can, and use creative solutions to make it possible for students to graduate on time. Generally, it is important to include the students' perspective and life situation. One can be flexible without compromising the requirements of the education. The quality MUST be guaranteed. Many students have challenges because they belong to the first generation in their family to get an education. In this respect, it is important that teachers and researchers are role models that students can take example from. It is important that students have good access to counseling, and that there is an open culture with clear expectations.
Some students may have language problems - and if so, it is essential to address this and not individualize it, but to consider it as a common concern for teachers as well as fellow students to help that person. It can be done, for example by providing talk time and space so that the students practice their language use. We now overcome all these challenges.
Now we look to the future, where our vision is to create a science programme. When we can cultivate a health science programme and research environment - then we can also educate our youth in science, says Suzanne Møller.
Facts about the nursing programme
The nursing programme is a bachelor programme at University of Greenland, Ilisimatusarfik.
The theoretical part of the programme is taught at Ilisimatusarfik, while the clinical part of the programme takes place in the country's hospitals. The language of instruction is Danish, but over the last years three Greenlandic teachers (trained in Greenland and subsequently they have taken a master's degree) were employed in the nursing programme. Two PhDs have graduated from the Institute and another one will finish in 2017.
Many students apply for the nursing programme, and this year the number of applicants was 60. We can only enroll about 14 new students a year. The students come from all parts of Greenland.