Reaching across globe, Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) Nursing lecturer Monica Tenhunen is in Vietnam for two weeks teaching and observing as the university begins the process of assisting Hanoi Medical University (HMU) with improving and advancing its undergraduate degree program in nursing.
Tenhunen, who began teaching in the CSULB School of Nursing in 2004, is teaching a 30-hour nursing course at HMU, one of the nation’s oldest universities, founded in 1902. Additionally, she is planning to spend a portion of her time observing her surroundings as well as meeting with officials and staff in an effort to learn as much as possible, in part, to make a variety of evaluations.
Her visit serves as the initial hands-on phase of a curriculum-building process for HMU that began last fall when Lucy Huckabay, director of CSULB’s School of Nursing, and Ken Millar, dean for CSULB’s College of Health and Human Services, visited the country at the request of university officials to see if a collaboration between the two institutions would be possible.
The newly established partnership between CSULB and HMU focuses on assisting HMU with its Advance Program in Nursing for the bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree. CSULB is helping HMU in upgrade and modernize its BSN curriculum as wel as improve instructional methodologies by adapting identified “best practices” of the CSULB School of Nursing.
The original plan, according to Beth Keely, CSULB professor of nursing, was to begin the actual faculty exchange this summer.
“Monica was chosen to go since she has taught this course (Nursing 202 - Health Care Communication) and has developed a hybrid version of the class,” said Keely, who also serves as the school’s assistant chair and undergraduate program director. “Additionally, she has extensive experience with overseas’ travel, having family in Singapore, and is therefore one of the most familiar with the area at-large.
“One of the things I have asked her to do is to assess what resources the Medical University of Hanoi has to support our offering further courses, particularly those that have a clinical component,” Keely added. “This initial assessment will be critical in our planning what the next couple of steps will be, as well as to determine the amount of faculty development that may be needed at the medical university, to fully operationalize the curriculum they want implemented.
“This is very much a cooperative agreement between the two institutions,” she continued, “and this is just the first step in a long-range project.”
Although in the future as many as three or four CSULB instructors may make the trip at one time, Tenhunen, a nurse practitioner of gerontology for older adults, has gone alone this month to teach the health care communication course.
“They decided that course would be a good starting point, and it’s a course that is 30 hours, so it can be done in two weeks,” said Tenhunen, who also teaches older adult healthcare, leadership and management classes for undergraduates and physical assessment clinicals at CSULB.
“They wanted somebody to come and teach the course, of course, but it also gives us the opportunity to evaluate the program and the facilities first-hand and up close to see how we are really going to make it work,” she said. “Timewise, I’ll probably spend 50 percent of my time in the classroom, but the knowledge I bring back seems to be the more important piece in terms of what is available, and if and how we can we really implement this program and make it happen. If they want to implement our curriculum, we need to see if they have the systems to support that. We may need to tweak it, but that will be part of my job to find out. It’s really seeing how we can adapt what we do here to fit that environment there.”
Tenhunen plans on teaching four hours a day over eight days, Monday through Thursday, and use the additional free days for other things such as observing and meeting with officials, staff and students.
“I think they could make it work,” said Huckabay. “There were several purposes besides them upgrading their level of education. They also wanted us to do some faculty training and development for them. Monica will be going there to teach the students, and we have also invited faculty to come and observe our faculty here at some point.”
Huckabay, who has developed entire curriculums for the nations of Oman and Armenia, anticipates the curriculum development in Vietnam to be a long-term partnership of four years minimum.