2013 UF Fulbright Scholar: Developing an undergraduate nursing program in Cambodia

2013 Teacher Workshop: The Human Image in Chinese Art and Culture
Dr. Karen Reed poses at the ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

For Dr. Karen Reed, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Department of Adult and Elderly Nursing at the College of Nursing, life in Southeast Asia is full of intrigue, progress, and education. Dr. Reed became the first nurse to receive a Fulbright Scholar Grant as well as the first Fulbright Scholar from UF to travel to Cambodia. Given the opportunity to assist in the development of the undergraduate nursing program at the Ministry of Health's Regional Training Centre in the city of Kampot, Dr. Reed will serve in Cambodia from September 2013 to July 2014. In the past, Dr. Reed has served as a volunteer mentor and teacher for nursing students at the Technical School for Medical Care, and has provided continuing education programs for staff nurses at Jeremiah's Hope and the Sihanouk Hospital of Hope in Phnom Penh.

Dr. Reed’s main objective, as a Fulbright Scholar, is to provide the Cambodian nursing students with a current body of knowledge which will allow them to enhance the quality of care provided to Cambodian citizens and to support the professional development of Cambodian nursing.  She engages with her students with the same passion and energy that she demonstrates with her UF students. During the first three months of her tenure, Dr. Reed conducted lectures on various aspects of gerontology.  Almost 75% of Cambodians are under age 30 and her students had little concept of how the human body changes with age and the role of the nurse in promoting wellness and healthy living for senior citizens as well as caring for them in times of illness.  This knowledge is critical for these future nurses as Cambodia’s aging population is expected to boom in the next 20 years, creating a tremendous gap in knowledge and care.   

In her first quarter here, she has also led workshops for  Cambodian nursing faculty and nurse preceptors from four of Cambodia’s provinces  in effective methods in lesson plan construction, the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy in developing learning objectives, and a myriad of teaching strategies for Cambodia’s nursing education system.  Cambodian nursing faculty members routinely join her in the classroom as translators and to practice, with Dr. Reed’s support, a variety of teaching strategies to enhance the learning experience .  “My role is to support the development of Cambodia’s  indigenous health care workforce- both nurses and faculty members- so that they can direct the future of Cambodia’s health care delivery and nursing education systems.” 

As in any academic institution throughout the world, the importance of having modern, educational tools is crucial in academic development. For Cambodia’s nursing program, a lack of resources has put a dent in the program’s advancement. With the guidance and assistance of Dr. Reed, a major overhaul of the library system was initiated. Outdated textbooks, some dating back to the late 1940s, were replaced by newer textbooks funded by Fulbright funds. Additionally, Dr. Reed has begun conducting clinical faculty and nurse preceptor teaching workshops as requested by the Regional Training Centre’s director, Dr. Chhun Samnang. As a result of her successful campaign, Dr. Reed has been asked to participate in the International Nurse’s Day Conference held in Phnom Penh in May 2014. “Cambodia is my heart home.  Receiving the Fulbright has been a dream come true for me and I wish to make the most of this opportunity by using my skill set in making a lasting difference on the Cambodian nursing profession.”