A historical contribution towards uplifting the Nursing profession in Sri Lanka

The 1st International Nursing Research Conference in Sri Lanka was successfully conducted by International Institute of Health

Sciences (www.iihsciences.com) last week with the participation of an Eminent Panel of top university delegates from Australia, UK & Malaysia.  This event was a result of the efforts of the IIHS team with the directions of Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, the Deputy Chairman of IIHS. The conference was supported by the Australian Trade Commission, Australia Future Unlimited under the guidance of Mr.David Samuels, Business Development Manager Austrade and endorsed by the Department of Health Western Province, Sri Lanka. The

Research forum attendees with the eminent panel of speakers

occasion was graced by HE Acting Australian High Commissioner; Ms Sonya Koppe and Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health. As a result of the strong international relationships that IIHS possesses, the conference was enlightened by experts in nursing research and the participants were guided through the complete research process.

The speakers were Prof. Rose McEldowney, the Head, School of Health, Charles Darwin University, Australia; Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, MD, Deputy Chairman of IIHS; Assoc. Prof. Faridah Hashim, Head, Faculty of Nursing, Open University Malaysia; Ms. Sue Randall, Senior Lecturer, Co-Course Director for Foundation Degree in Health, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, UK; Dr. Virginia Dickson-Swift, Head, Department of Health & Environment, LaTrobe University, Australia; Ms. Glenda Whiting, Principal Lecturer – Health, TAFE South Australia and Dr. Nihal De Silva, Former Associate Prof. Stanford University-USA and present Dean of IIHS.

The importance of this conference cannot be underestimated as it is a step towards uplifting professional standards in nursing and allied health care, and in status building for the profession and creating a critical thinking nurse, who is well equipped to face the challenges in nursing today.

This highly qualified panel of experts succinctly explained the research process and above all planted a desire in the hearts of the participants to explore evidence based practice through research. As was highlighted by Dr. K. Edirisinghe, this served as an ‘incubator’ for continuous professional development.

A number of veterans from the Sri Lankan Nursing arena participated, including Director Nursing – Sri Lanka; Ms. L. Abeygunawardena, CNOs, Nursing school principals including; Ms. Rupa Pathmini Menike, Ms. Ashoka Abeynayake, Ms. Lalitha Peiris, NTS lecturers, nursing students and representatives from the Asiri Group of Hospitals including the CNO; Ms. Waruni Navodya and representatives of government hospitals including the Lady Ridgeway Hospital.

This proved to be a marvelous platform for nurses and allied health professionals at every stage of their academic and professional career from the student to the doctorate level to disseminate their research findings. IIHS gave the opportunity for them to grab the expertise of professionals in their field on the second day of the conference.

Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe presenting a token of Appreciation to the Chief Guest Her Excellence, Acting Australian High Commissioner – Ms Sonya Koppe

There were 30 presenters from Diploma level students to PhD level students and they were evaluated by an eminent panel. The forum also provided an opportunity for poster presentations which is the latest trend for presenting research and it has expanded in to field of physiotherapy as well as giving the diploma level of physiotherapy students an opening to perform in this research forum.

It made the platform for the 1st Government nursing officer to win the award of an international research. Rixy Lasanthi Dassanayake, a nursing officer of National Hospital of Sri Lanka won the gold medal for the best poster presentation; she said that this is a lifelong experience for all the Sri Lankan Nurses to uplift their knowledge on Research. Manchulaa Navaratnasingham; won the gold award for paper presentation, was the 1st physiotherapy student to achieve this at an international conference. There were diploma level students of IIHS who secured awards for their presentation including Sashya Kandeanarachchi; silver award winner for paper presentation, Puneesha Pasqual; bronze award winner for paper presentation, and Chathuran Herath, Gayan Wijewardana & Shafin Majid won the bronze award for poster presentation. Puneesha Pasquel, who won the bronze award, said that it was an incubator to demonstrate their Research skills in front of an eminent panel and get their valued ideas to further strengthen their skills. A number of government sector nurses currently completing their undergraduate studies also presented, while a PhD undergraduate thesis was also presented by a Malaysian student. For the first time in the history of Maldives, two Maldivian students of IIHS; Shamna Aishath & Abdul Razzaag Buthoola won the silver award for poster presentation. According to them it was a great opportunity provided by IIHS to represent the Research Forum as international students and to sharpen their analytical skills. These students were very grateful for the opportunity to present their work which is undoubtedly a major opportunity for personal growth. All the presenters were also highly commended for the quality and depth of their research by the reputed panelists present on that day. Other presenters included Bachelor of Science, Nursing graduates from the Universities of Sri Jayewardenepura and Peradeniya. This forum also provided an opportunity for stimulating critical thought among the attendees from nurses’ training schools and the Asiri Group of Hospitals.
The 1st International Nursing Research Conference in Sri Lanka was a historical step that gave the opportunity for representatives from government sector, private sector, Nursing schools and so on to get an exposure to the International Nursing Arena and to exchange their thoughts. It was interesting that a private sector organization would do so as shown by the Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva. In his speech at the inauguration of the event, he highly valued the move to conduct such a conference specifically for nurses establishing that research in healthcare is not limited to doctors. Rev. Sister Geraldine, the Head of Nursing at IIHS also stated that research is central to modern nursing practice.

IIHS (www.iihsciences.com) as the premier healthcare training institute in Sri Lanka delivers program in the field of Nursing ranging from Diploma to Masters level in collaboration with Deakin University Australia, ECU Australia, Tafe South Australia and Open University Malaysia. All these avenues fulfill the vision of IIHS to be the heart of innovative development of healthcare professionals for the globe.

The importance of this conference cannot be underestimated as it is a step towards uplifting professional standards in nursing and allied health care, and in status building for the profession and creating a critical thinking nurse, who is well equipped to face the challenges in nursing today