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Thai health care: New program provides research training for nurses

August 6, 2014
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ANN ARBOR—Heart disease, diabetes, high-blood pressure and other noncommunicable diseases will soon become the leading cause of sickness and death in Thailand as the country becomes wealthier.

To better prevent and manage these diseases, there’s a growing need for research by nurses and other health professionals who play a key role in Thailand’s health care system. A new project involving the University of Michigan and an institute within Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health will help provide the research training that nurses and other health professionals need in the Southeast Asian nation.

The “Strengthening Nurse NCD Research and Training Capacity in Thailand” project is funded by a $1.15 million grant from the Fogarty International Center, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The center supports research and training for U.S. and foreign investigators working in the developing world.

A U-M nursing student works with colleagues in Thailand to care for a patient.

A U-M nursing student works with colleagues in Thailand to care for a patient.

The new program will build on the longstanding collaboration between the U-M School of Nursing and the Praboromarajchanok Institute for Health Workforce Development. Both programs will provide instructors, mentors and advisers who will create the five-year training program that begins this year.

Kathleen Potempa, the project’s primary investigator and dean of U-M’s School of Nursing, said that U-M will be able to share what it has learned in the past half-century of building a model Ph.D. program for nurse researchers.

“We can help train a group of people in research who will go back to Thailand to be mentors to nurses in the country who, in addition to all else they do, are dealing with a rise of chronic disease, including many conditions that we know are manageable and even preventable through evidence-based practice,” Potempa said.

Benjaporn Rajataramya, a key Thai partner in developing the project, noted that her country has long taken a leadership role in Southeast Asia in managing communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, through research and policymaking.

“With the assistance of this important grant support, Thailand can now lead Southeast Asia in managing noncommunicable, chronic disease through discovery and research,” said Benjaporn, senior research expert and research center chief at the Praboromarajchanok Institute.

The Thai nurses’ training program will include:

  • Research training for two people each year who will spend one year doing mentored research at U-M and another year of project implementation in Thailand.

  • Short-term training—between one and three months—for eight people each year, strengthening their understanding of methodology, analysis and policy.

  • Yearly research workshops in Thailand for trainees, faculty, other health professionals and administrators in Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, universities and institutes.

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Research reported in this release was supported by the Fogarty International Center and National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health under grant number: D43-TW-009883-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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