Faculty Research & Scholarship Spotlights - College of Health & Social Sciences

August 3, 2018

The Mary Ann van Dam School of Nursing in Kenya, Africa, celebrates their first pinning ceremony

On August 3, 2018, the Mary Ann van Dam School of Nursing celebrated their first pinning ceremony in western Kenya near the shores of Lake Victoria. The School of Nursing derives its name from Dr. Mary Ann van Dam, RN, PhD, PNP, Director of the School of Nursing at San Francisco State University. For the past 10 years, Dr. van Dam has made an immense personal contribution to the welfare and health of the Kenyan people. Since 2011, she has committed to establishing a model training institution that is sensitive to both the healthcare needs of the community and training needs of healthcare professionals. Additionally, her dedication and service, overall, has driven innovation and improvements in healthcare worldwide through the education of compassionate nurses, esteemed educators and researchers, entrepreneurial leaders, and influential policy experts.

The Mary Ann van Dam School of Nursing is an initiative of the Matibabu Foundation in partnership with local and international health stakeholders to promote quality healthcare in Kenya and in the international arena. In 2011, after building a small 8 bed hospital, the co-founder of the hospital, Mr. Dan Ogola of the Matibabu Foundation, suggested to Dr. van Dam that they start a School of Nursing in Kenya as well. Though it was a grand idea, Dr. van Dam questioned the feasibility of opening a School of Nursing in a small, rural, impoverished area of Kenya that lacked basic infrastructure, such as a water system. However, the notion of educating Kenyan nurses was irresistible and they persisted. Dr. van Dam communicated with the Registrar of Nursing of Kenya, assisted with the curriculum after learning Kenyan mandates, worked with the Laerdal company to provide free patient simulators to create a nursing simulation lab, sent more nursing equipment, and provided the books for the library.

By surprise, Mr. Ogola honored Dr. van Dam by naming the school after her when it was opened in 2014. They just celebrated their first graduation and pinning ceremony on August 3, 2018, thus indicating the students’ completion of their professional Diploma in Nursing. This qualifies them to become registered nurses in Kenya. During this ceremony, students were symbolically welcomed into the nursing profession and were asked to recite a pledge based on an oath originally created by Florence Nightingale, a renowned nurse and the founder of the first professional training school of nurses. It was a 6-hour ceremony, in full regalia, in the equatorial heat, but the experience was wonderful and unforgettable. Twenty-six more students will be graduating in December 2018. For more information, visit: Matibabu Foundation.