With flag raising, lamp lighting, and drum beating, the American College of Health Sciences in Sri Lanka celebrated its grand opening on January 12, 2003. Assorted prominent personages were present, including Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health. Dr. Julia Pearce, chair of the Department of Nursing at Pacific Union College, was a guest of honor and a speaker at the opening.
Dr. Pearce traveled 22 hours from California to Sri Lanka to take part in the new school’s ceremony, taking with her a gift of 200 pounds of books which she and other PUC faculty and staff donated. She spent a week sharing with the administration about teaching methods and expectations at American colleges. They also discussed what it would take for the students to earn their associate’s degrees in Sri Lanka and then transfer to PUC to earn their bachelor’s degrees.
The American College of Health Sciences is not a part of the Adventist educational system, but it has many connections. The founding doctor graduated from Loma Linda University School of Medicine. The school’s faculty includes a nurse who graduated from Walla Walla College and is married to a man working for Global Mission in Sri Lanka.
Additionally, before opening, the American College of Health Sciences was looking for an American college curriculum to use for their students. PUC sent some information and material which met with the approval of the administration at the new school. So for over a year PUC, and Dr. Pearce in particular, has been working with the new school, supplying a plenitude of curricula material and practical advice.
Dr. Pearce notes that the administration of the American College of Health Sciences is “very results-oriented.” One of their main objectives is to give the nursing students an education sufficient to qualify them for work in the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and the United States. Dr. Pearce says that they also “want to know what we expect” – and will do whatever they can to meet those expectations.
There are currently 23 male and female students at the new school, studying under English instructors, science teachers from the medical university, and the nursing faculty. The school was founded by a doctor who recognized the great need for such a school in a country where medical care and resources are limited and nursing education is inadequate. There is no board of registered nursing in Sri Lanka, and the tiny, 30-bed Adventist hospital that Dr. Pearce visited said they “have difficulty getting qualified nurses.”
PUC will continue to provide consultation and support to the American College of Health Sciences, acknowledging that this ministry is much needed there. In addition, Dr. Pearce hopes that some members of the PUC nursing faculty can spend a week teaching the nursing students in Sri Lanka. “Our material is a tremendous help to them,” she explains. “We can be an incredible influence and role model.”