Project #8750

Train new health workers in Ethiopia: Save lives!

by IntraHealth International

The nursing students at Alkan Health Science College began the third quarter of their second year this July and have continued pursuing their studies in areas of predetermined key competencies to improve the nursing skills they have already begun to develop. As we follow their studies, it is important to remember the impact these scholarships are having not just on the lives of these six students, but also in the communities they will serve.

Ethiopia is one of the most populated countries in Africa, second only to Nigeria. Providing healthcare to such a large and continuously growing population is especially challenging. In addition to being densely populated, Ethiopia is also a mountainous country which makes reaching rural areas extremely difficult. However, each of these six students will bring back their advanced skills to a rural community in Ethiopia, and serve a population that otherwise would not have access to basic health care.

The rapidly growing population highlights particularly the importance of training more nurses and midwives to be skilled birth attendants. This is one of the key competency areas these students are studying through hands-on training in the skills laboratory to learn the process of labor and listen to classroom lectures on the female reproductive system. Eyerus reflects on the community and the role she will play as she practices the skills she’s learned in child and maternal health at nearby health center: “I have an interest to be part of the community fight[ing] to reduce the death of mothers and babies.”

Thank you to Eyerus, and the five other nursing students: Almaz, Hawa, Fatuma, Tsehay, and Haymanot for continuing to share your hard work and learning experiences with us. To our donors, thank you for supporting these students and the thousands of people they will one day serve. Together we can build a healthier world.

At ALKAN Health Science College nursing students study a curriculum built around the key competencies needed to become effective nurses in their communities, just like students attending nurse training programs in the United States. We asked our students at ALKAN Health Science College about the skills they are learning this year, and which key competency areas they find most interesting. Here’s what they had to say.

Almaz talked about the competency area of implementing basic nursing care—the backbone of all nursing. She is studying how to manage patient safety and comfort and how to help immobile clients with feeding and grooming. She has been mastering these skills by attending class, practicing in the skills laboratory, and collaborating with other health team members. Almaz says it’s important to learn “the knowledge and skills required to contribute to the nursing care of clients in a range of health environments.”

Fatuma highlighted learning about how to administer a wide range of medications. This semester, she is studying pharmacology and how different drugs treat and affect systems in the body. For example, while learning about medications that affect the nervous system, Fatuma studied the drug compounds and effects and then learned how to administer dosage accurately in the skills laboratory.

Hawa was most interested in basic wound care and developing a nursing care plan for her clients. She enjoys practicing in the skills laboratory, particularly skills related to preventing infections.

Tsehay, Eyerus, and Haymanot all pointed to learning how to provide maternal and newborn health care. “For me, there is nothing that gave satisfaction more than providing care and support to the mothers and babies,” reflects Eyerus. “I want to be part of the community that is fighting to reduce the deaths of mothers and babies.” The students have been studying the female reproductive system and fetal development in class. In the skills lab, they practice antenatal care, delivery and postnatal care for both mothers and babies.

To the nursing students at ALKAN, thank you for sharing your interests with us! We enjoy hearing stories coming from Ethiopia about your journey to become nurses. To our donors, we thank you for your continued support and your commitment to championing frontline health workers through this project. We look forward to sharing more stories about our students soon.

Nursing student at work
Nursing student at work

Dear Friends of IntraHealth International,

Happy New Year! Our 6 nursing students are getting ready to begin their second year at ALKAN University.  As we reflect back on the year and the journey these students have taken, we also look forward to the future and the exciting courses, skills and lessons the students will learn and eventually bring back to their villages. 

Over the past year Fatuma, Almaz, Eyerus, Hawa, Haymont and Tsehay have faced many challenges but accomplished much in their first year at ALKAN University.  Each student moved from their home region to attend the University and begin their studies as nurses.  One of the difficulties all 6 students identified when asked about the challenges they faced was being able to afford basic living expenses, such as rent for an apartment or fare for the bus so they can get to their classes.  It is because of your past support, some of these difficulties have been mitigated, and we have been able to provide these 6 scholars the opportunity to look forward to their next year in school. 

The New Year will bring new academic challenges for Fatuma, Almaz, Eyerus, Hawa, Haymont & Tsehay. Their courses for the upcoming year will cover a variety of topics, from implementing basic nursing care to introduction to pharmacology and from nursing care for mothers and newborns to the disabled and aged.  In addition to these medically geared courses, our scholars will also take classes concerning the business side of the nursing profession.  They will have the opportunity to learn skills such as effective communication, growing and maintaining a customer base and effective management of a team.  For example, in the course titled, “Leading Small Team” students will cover what it means to be a leader, how to maximize performance outcomes, monitoring performances, managing an effective work team and how to give feedback.  This holistic approach will allow students to bring the skills they learned in health care and the skills they learned in business, back to their villages where there are few health workers.

It has been an exciting first year for our scholars and we look forward to reporting on what the New Year will bring and how our students are enjoying their new classes.  To our scholars, best of luck as you begin your second year!  To our donors, thank you for your continued support of our mission to serve as champions of the frontline health worker.  To learn about other ways IntraHealth International is empowering frontline health workers, visit us at or sign up to receive our news and updates.

Nursing student at work
Nursing student at work
Practicing Skills
Practicing Skills
Practicing Skills
Practicing Skills
Nursing Students at Work
Nursing Students at Work

Dear Friends of IntraHealth International,

The nursing students at ALKAN Health Science College in Dessi, Ethiopia, finished the last quarter of their first year at school and spent the summer preparing to take their competency exams. These are national exams, administered by the Amhara Regional State Center of Competence (COC). The students have spent the past year learning some of the basics in nursing and will be tested on topics that range from giving a child a bath and transferring a patient from a bed to a wheelchair to the proper administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

In order to prepare for the exams, the students took part in a cooperative studies program arranged by the university in different areas in Ethiopia. Many of the students were able to return to their local districts to participate in the cooperative course, which helped alleviate, even if only temporarily, the added challenge and economic burden of being far from home.

Almaz participated in her cooperative course at Ajibar Cologenet Health Center where she worked with other students to review and practice the topics covered throughout the year. These group trainings, she says, will help her pass the exam this October. All of the students said they spent time studying on their own during summer break and some of the students even attended a special tutorial program before beginning their cooperative course. Tsehay says she focused on her studies and “was reading different materials [during the break] targeted to the COC exam.”

To our nursing students pictured above—Almaz, Fatuma, Eyerus, Hawa, Haymont, and Tsehay—best of luck on your competency exams! And to those who support these impressive, committed students and our continued mission to serve as champions of the frontline health worker, thank you. To learn about other ways IntraHealth International is empowering frontline health workers, visit us at or sign up to receive our news and updates.

Dear Friends of IntraHealth International,

We are happy to share with you the latest update from our nursing scholars at ALKAN Health University in Dessi, Ethiopia.  They are wrapping up their first year as students, and have reflected on the joys and challenges of being a nursing student in Ethiopia.   

We invite you to follow their journey during their time at school with us through our quarterly reports.  Here, you can read more about what each student has particularly enjoyed about their first year training to be a nurse and what some of the greatest challenges have been. 

Almaz has particularly enjoyed helping her patients and takes great pride that her work will reduce health risks caused by the lack of healthcare professionals in her area.  She enjoys the profession, and finds the challenges to be more financial than academic.  Her parents are unable to send her money and rent, school supplies and the cost of transportation all provide a constant challenge for her.   

Fatuma, like Almaz, appreciates her training because of the future impact it has.  She says “I like studying nursing, because I observed that there are people who are suffering from lack of health professionals and health infrastructure in my local area. I have a dream to help those people with my profession together with God.”  And, like her colleague, finds her biggest challenges to be economic.  Fatuma’s parents are farmers in the Afar region of Ethiopia, an area hit particularly hard by the droughts this year, and they are no longer able to send what little money they previously were able to provide.    

Eyerus is a new recipient of the nursing scholarship, as one of the other students had to leave the program due to personal problems.  She finds the program to be rewarding and plans to continue her studies even after she has completed the nursing program to eventually become a doctor.  Eyerus’s parents live in the Afar region as well, and she faces similar economic challenges.  She currently lives with relatives and finds it difficult to have a quiet place to study!

Hawa too, sees the suffering in her home region because there are too few healthcare providers.  She says “I observed people suffering from lack of these professionals. Hence I need to be part of this profession to help those people”.   Hawa’s biggest challenge is the high cost of transportation so she can get to school.  The taxi prices are too high, and therefor she often times must walk to school.  

Haymont says she enjoys studying nursing because she enjoys providing a service for her community and country as a health care professional.  She too, faces the same economic challenges of her colleagues and lives with relatives to be closer to the university in order to be able to attend the school.   She has difficulty finding a quiet place to study in her relatives house.

Tsehay finds joy in both the act of helping people, and the act of learning the science behind the medicine.  She says “I observed that people in my locality even in my family there is no any idea about the scientific medication. Hence I like to be part of the health professionals to help those people and to give awareness on the importance of the scientific medicates, however, the cultural medication is also effective but with its disadvantage”.  Tsehay’s challenges are balancing school, work and economic hardship.  Her father passed away and her mother lives in the rural area of Ambasel wereda, unable to provide any additional financial support.   Tsehay lives with a woman in exchange for performing housework, but still cannot afford transportation to school and has to walk a long distance to ALKAN.

All of these students are grateful for the support of IntraHealth International, and its donors.  Without individuals like you championing for the frontline health workers, students like these would not be able to afford to train as nurses. 


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Organization Information

IntraHealth International

Location: Chapel Hill, NC - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Nola Paterni
Development Officer
Washington, DC United States

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