UIC Nursing helps develop Bahrain’s first APRN graduate degree program  

Kathleen Sparbel with colleagues in Bahrain

UIC College of Nursing faculty are collaborating with the University of Bahrain College of Health Sciences to develop the first advanced practice nursing graduate degree program in Bahrain.  

This master of science nursing degree program will be the first-of-its kind to prepare advanced practice nurses within the small Persian Gulf country. The new program is expected to begin in September 2018.

“In the region, there are very few options for further study beyond a baccalaureate degree,” says Linda McCreary, UIC College of Nursing associate dean for global health. “People have to leave the region and go to the U.K. or to the U.S. to study if they want a master’s degree. Having this master’s program in Bahrain will have an impact on the development of the nursing profession across the Gulf region.”  

The collaboration is the latest in a long-standing relationship. The UIC College of Nursing helped the Ministry of Health in Bahrain establish the College of Health Sciences and its nursing department in 1984, and in 2008, conducted a curriculum review and made recommendations for development of other programs.   

Dr. Aamal Joseph Akleh, dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Bahrain (UoB), says that under the umbrella of UoB, the college got the needed support to offer higher degree programs and build up the capacity of both advanced practice nurses and high-quality midwives among other specialties. This will address the high market demand in Bahrain and the other gulf countries.   

She says advanced practice nurses are the “cornerstone in maintaining patient safety, improving patient care, improving the quality of health care services and maximizing patient satisfaction.”  

When the new program gets underway, UIC has agreed to provide faculty for short durations, likely for one- to two-week  periods, to teach selected sections of courses in the new program. There will be three master’s level specialties: adult health nursing, psychiatric-mental health nursing and nurse midwifery.  

Kathleen Sparbel, clinical associate professor and director of the UIC Nursing-Quad Cities campus, reviewed curricular materials and made recommendations during a trip to Bahrain in June.  

Sparbel says it’s important to the Bahrain nursing administration and faculty that the curriculum follow internationally recognized educational standards, so that the nurses who graduate from it are prepared for practice both in Bahrain and on the international stage.   

“Our University of Bahrain nursing colleagues are dedicated to delivering a high-quality [MS] program that provides the established clinical nursing and professional role development competencies essential to support advanced practice nursing,” she said. “UIC’s educational collaboration with the University of Bahrain in this exciting initiative will lead the Gulf region to provide important educational opportunities for nurses and improve clinical outcomes for patients and families.”  

The first doctorally prepared nurse from Bahrain, Fariba Al-Darazi; PhD ’86; was then a faculty at the College of Health Sciences, and earned her PhD at the UIC College of Nursing, as did the second, Naeema Al-Gasseer, PhD ’90, MS ’87; who was also a faculty at the College of Health Sciences. Both have had stellar careers influencing nursing and health care at national and international levels.