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Sri Lankan Director of Health Visits Angwin

Lainey S. Cronk
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Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva, Director of Health for Sri Lanka, visited Pacific Union College and St. Helena Hospital on Tuesday, April 11, during his family’s vacation in the U.S. De Silva toured the science departments of the college, including a special visit with the nursing department’s programmable medical mannequin, SimMan, as well as taking a tour of St. Helena Hospital.

De Silva’s interest in the college and hospital stems from the connection between Pacific Union College and the Associated College of Health Sciences, which opened in Sri Lanka in 2003 as part of an effort to increase the number of qualified nurses in that country. Dr. Julia Pearce, the former chair of the Pacific Union College nursing department, was instrumental in helping the new school develop its curriculum and in advising the school’s administration about Western healthcare training standards.

Pearce spent a week in Sri Lanka when the school opened, participating in the ceremonies, bringing 200 pounds of books and materials with her, and helping with curriculum preparation. Three years later, in January of 2006, Pearce returned for the first graduation—with another 100 pounds of books. “I never thought I’d get father than Phoenix!” Pearce laughs. “So this is all very exciting. It was a pleasure to work there, to know that I was helping with something essential.”

Now, Pearce says, the hard work is paying off. “You can see the students working very hard,” she says. “They have done very well.” The 17 members of this first graduating class passed their government exams with high performance levels, and have all had multiple job offers.

De Silva explains, however, that the country faces continued challenges in training qualified nurses. “Funding, facilities, students—everything is an issue!” he says. “Many of those who want to go into nursing cannot afford the training.” But even with financial help, the Minister of Health says, there are not enough students pursuing training in nursing, and building awareness is a key issue. “We need to educate people even at the grassroots level,” de Silva says.

So de Silva and the administrators of the Associated College are grateful for all the guidance and curriculum help that PUC has provided. “You can be justifiably proud that you have made a change,” de Silva told Pearce, PUC President Richard Osborn, and a group of other college administrators. “That planning goes a long way, and you can be proud that you have given a different flavor to our nursing training.”

Note: This is an archived article and does not necessarily represent current issues at Pacific Union College.