My colleague John Ulatowski wrote about the inherent risk of homogenization as we share ideas about health and the delivery of health care around the world. At Johns Hopkins, we do our best to listen and learn before we begin an international affiliation, rather than foisting pre-conceived ideas and processes that work here or in the United States in general. We respect—even learn from and adopt—the differences in how health care is delivered and received in different countries and cultures. 

John mentioned our collaboration with Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare to develop and deliver the first Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A lifelong nurse myself, I had the privilege of interacting with the 13 students who made up the program’s first cohort. 

As nurses, we are always putting the patient first, and that takes the same skills, knowledge and ability whether we’re in Saudi Arabia, the United States or any other country in the world. What I especially admired about these women—and all the students were, in fact, women—is that they really embraced this program and wrung out every opportunity to learn and expand their clinical and leadership skills.

I told these nurses that they are a force to contend with—and I meant it. They weren’t stymied by what women in other countries could see as inconveniences or impossibilities, and, in fact, Johns Hopkins considered the students’ unique need for flexibility and accessibility as we created the DNP curriculum. 

I’m also proud that, with this program, Johns Hopkins considered the historical and cultural context of nursing in the Kingdom, including limited access to advanced nursing education and more restrictive perceptions about nurses’ expected, or accepted, roles in providing care. 

Read this feature article to learn more about these extraordinary women and this first-of-its-kind program.

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