What began as a mission trip has become an internationally recognized honor for Dr. Shelby Garner, assistant professor at Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON).
In February, Garner learned she was a recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Research Grant from the U.S. India Educational Foundation. The grant will provide her the opportunity to research the impact of simulation education in nursing curricula in Bengaluru, India.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 2.4 million nurses are needed to fill the nursing workforce gap in India. The demand for those nurses is often met by employing ill-qualified nurses, leading to poor care. Countries with the highest healthcare shortages have been proven to have the poorest health outcomes and the highest number of maternal and infant deaths.
"The Fulbright grant will provide travel, a salary stipend and other resources needed to conduct this research," Garner said. "I plan to work collaboratively with my faculty colleagues in Bengaluru to evaluate the impact of simulation use in Bachelor of Science in Nursing and General Nurse Midwife programs in India."
The Fulbright-Nehru program provides U.S. faculty, researchers and professionals an opportunity to teach and/or conduct research in partnership with an Indian host institution.
Garner was drawn to Baylor in 2011 because the university provided the opportunity to take part in Christian global endeavors. After her first year teaching at Baylor, she traveled with a group from LHSON to Bengaluru. Their goal was to coordinate and present a workshop for the nursing faculty at the Rebekah Ann Naylor School of Nursing (RANSON) in India.
"I listened as Ms. Leena Raj, RANSON's principal, shared the unique challenges faced by nurses and nursing faculty in India," Garner said. "Due to complex religious and cultural factors, nursing is not perceived as a respectable profession in India. I felt called to establish ongoing partnerships with my colleagues in India to address some of these challenges."
RANSON, owned by Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH), is a faith-based nursing school founded by Baylor alumna Rebekah Ann Naylor, BA '64, who has served as a missionary surgeon in India for 35 years.
Following her trip to India, Garner led two research studies with colleagues from LHSON and RANSON, exploring the challenges and brainstorming strategies to improve the nursing shortage in India.
"Through this research we discovered nurses in India have a desire for increased opportunities for continuing education and empowerment to use healthcare technology," Garner said. “Nurses in India aspire to be respected and deserve opportunities to emerge as leaders in the health care industry."
In 2015, Garner worked with Raj and Dr. Naveen Thomas, CEO of BBH, to write a grant to provide for the needs of the BBH nursing community. In December, they were granted more than $650,000 by the U.S. Agency for International Development American Schools and Hospitals Abroad Division. The grant allows Baylor to partner with BBH to build a four-story Simulation Education and Research Centre for Nursing Excellence in Bengaluru.
In January, a team of Baylor LHSON faculty and students participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in India. Their next step is hands-on research.