FAANP: International Advanced Practice Nurse Ambassadors

ICN Ambassadors

Hear from Kathy Wheeler, PhD, RN, APRN, NP-C, FNAP, a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (FAANP), as she introduces the 2019 International Ambassadors of AANP's International Advanced Practice Nurse Ambassador Program.

The AANP International Committee (AANP IC) would like to introduce the 2019 International Ambassadors. Two were chosen this year — Fathi Al Abri, from Oman, and Bonisile Nsibandze, from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). After a year of fundraising by the AANP IC, as well as support from AANP, the committee advertised internationally, receiving over 40 applications. The ambassadors were chosen not only because of their own qualifications but also because they were from countries where the nurse practitioner (NP) role is just emerging. Each received funding for travel, housing and food, along with a waived conference fee. Each was paired with a member of the AANP IC to serve as a mentor. Fathi was paired with Maria Kidner and Bonisile was paired with Madrean Schober. One of the goals of the program is that the ambassadors will learn from their mentor, network with each other and AANP leaders, gain new perspectives of NP care and accelerate role development in their own country. Since both attended the 2019 AANP National Conference in June in Indianapolis, many of you may have heard them speak at a meeting or met them while there. However, since some never had an opportunity to do that, we would like to share the following stories about the ambassadors:

Fathi Al Abri was one of five nurses selected in 2014 by the Oman Ministry of Health and Ministry of Higher Education to earn master’s degrees in advanced practice. All this occurred after an analysis by the World Health Organization, which suggested the role would be useful in Oman, though there would be challenges. The five nurses received scholarships and were sent to either the United States, Australia or the United Kingdom to earn the degrees. Fathi was sent to Australia and earned his degree as an emergency nurse practitioner (ENP). Unfortunately, upon his return to Oman, no regulatory or practice model existed to allow any of the NPs to practice in an advanced role — as a consequence of that, all of them teach, including Fathi. One day, a significant disaster occurred in the community where Fathi worked; one so significant all nurses were called to assist. Fathi ended up serving in such a capacity that his emergency knowledge, professionalism and skills saved lives. After the emergency, the doctors met with Fathi, and he started practicing in the emergency room three afternoons a week. However, as Fathi is the only NP clinically practicing in Oman, there still is no administrative or financial structure supportive to his work. Currently, Fathi spends his days teaching, but three days a week he leaves his office mid-afternoon and volunteers as an NP in the emergency department. He is personally committed to NP role development in Oman. Upon learning about being named an AANP International Ambassador, the Minister of Health of Oman promised to talk with Fathi about role development in Oman.

Bonisile Nsibandze is a family nurse practitioner (FNP) from Eswatini who teaches at the University of Swaziland, is earning a PhD from the University of Johannesburg and who earned her master’s degree from the University of Botswana. Until after the choice was made, the selection committee was unaware Bonisile was a former student of Mabedi Kgositau, an AANP International Ambassador in 2018. The program where Bonisile teaches took in its first cohort of NP students in August 2017, with Bonisile heavily involved in the conceptualization, development and implementation of the FNP program. Aside from planning and delivering the FNP program, Bonisile is involved in several research projects on HIV, as well as oversees student research and the policy development of palliative care programs throughout Eswatini. In 2014, she participated in the development of the Swaziland National Nursing Strategic Plan.

Update on International Ambassadors 2018

All the 2018 AANP International Ambassadors have been very busy, continuing to devote their time to advancing the NP role at home and abroad.

  • Mabedi Kgositau, from Botswana, has continued to teach at the University of Botswana while also working on her doctorate from the University of South Africa. Since Botswana has been a resource and example of advanced practice nursing for several African countries working on NP role development, Mabedi has been a significant factor in NP role development throughout Africa.
  • Bongi Sibanda, from Zimbabwe but who teaches and practices in London, has devoted all her extra time and effort to health system development in Zimbabwe. Her work on the education of emergency room physicians, along with policy initiatives to introduce the NP role there, have been noticed by several global organizations devoted to health care system and workforce development. This past summer, she testified before the United Nations about the urgent need for education and resources in Africa as well as the potential for improved care through the introduction of the NP role in the African region where she has worked.
  • Heather McGrath, from Jamaica, was re-elected as president of the Jamaican Nurse Practitioner Association. She has also been asked to serve on the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nursing Network Core Steering Group.
  • Scholastica Chibehe, from Tanzania, has continued to practice at the Muhimbili National Hospital, teach at the Muhimbili School of Nursing and Midwifery and serve as Midwifery Advisor for Jhpiego Dar es Salaam Tanzania as well as Technical Advisor Midwifery USAID Boresha Afya Mwanza Region Tanzania.
Panel discussion on advanced practice at the ICN Congress in Singapore 2019
Bongi Sibanda, pictured second from left; Heather McGrath, pictured third from left

Scholastica, Bongi and Heather all attended the ICN Congress in Singapore this past summer, with Bongi and Heather serving on a panel about advanced practice.

Keep Up With the Fellows

Published quarterly, the FAANP Forum is the e-newsletter of the Fellows. It features important policy, practice, research and education news, as well as international perspectives, membership and leadership columns and member news. Explore the archives, view the latest issue and submit your achievements to be spotlighted in the newsletter!

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This article first appeared in the FAANP Forum, Vol. X, Issue 3, in September 2019. Thank you to Kathy Wheeler for her invaluable assistance!