Yale World Fellow Dr. Zeena Johar Joined By Many

October 27, 2015

This past Tuesday evening, a group of YSN students and professors gathered to welcomed Dr. Zeena Johar to the nursing school and learn about her initiatives to train health care providers to serve communities in rural south India. We were joined by students from Yale College, who support Dr. Johar in connecting to the Yale community during her stay in New Haven as a Yale World Fellow.

Dr. Johar has been inspired by the role that nurse practitioners play in the U.S. in alleviating the national shortage of healthcare providers. In India, the shortage of providers is immense, with many physicians electing to practice in urban areas, leaving those in rural areas without many options for health care. With the increasing burden of disease shifting towards chronic health issues in India, such as hypertension and diabetes, it is critical that communities have access to quality and consistent care. 

While the government of India does have programs to help minimize major threats such as maternal mortality and transmission of infectious diseases, such programs fall short of making an impact. The reasons for this are complicated, and Dr. Zohar discussed some of them, including incentive-based care (ie: a healthcare worker is paid to bring a laboring woman to the hospital) rather than consistent and preventive care. 

With an entrepreneurial spirit and an appreciation for the kind of care that Nurse Practitioners provide, Dr. Johar sought to create a type of Nurse Practitioner for southern India. In coordination with UPENN School of Nursing, Dr. Johar spearheaded the creation of a curriculum to train Indian Medicine providers (providers who practice homeopathy, Ayurveda, etc. and who have legal prescriptive authority) in important allopathic concepts. Because these practitioners already have established patients and are already in good standing with their communities, Dr. Johar targeted these providers for her training model. 

Dr. Johar is establishing relationships with medical colleges around India to provide certificates to the practitioners once they compete a six-month didactic training course and three month internship. Those who have completed the training program can then return to their communities where they will provide enhanced care to their patients, or can work in one of ten clinics in Tamil Nadu, India that Dr. Johar’s organization is supporting. 

YSN students were incredibly excited to learn about Dr. Johar’s efforts and learn about a global interest in the role of nurse practitioners. Students asked questions about the training needs assessment conducted by Johar and UPENN. We asked about how these healthcare workers might collaborate with the government-appointed health employees. We had questions on funding, on curriculum development, and on India’s greatest health challenges. Dr. Johar commented that the YSN audience was the most engaged audience she’s ever had! 

Student interest in global health at YSN continues to grow with each new class of GEPNs admitted to the school. We recognize the value of our training and the role it can play in the world  - where entire populations could stand to benefit from the nurse practitioner’s emphasis on patient education,disease prevention, and continuity of care. 

We eagerly look forward to hearing more about Dr. Johar’s project in India and anticipate future lectures and discussions with more global health program implementers!

Written by Katie Temes ‘17