Fullbright Scholar discusses his hopes for improving the quality of health care in Yemen

Sara Bennett

Abdulkarem Ghazi has a wife and children in his home country of Yemen. He has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and has worked at many different hospitals.

He also has a dream.

Ghazi said he dreams of the day where he teaches Yemeni students from textbooks less than 20 years old, and his dream starts at Kent State.

The AMIDEAST Fulbright Scholar department has chosen Ghazi to come to Kent State for his master’s degree in nursing and health care management. He begins this semester.

Karen Budd, College of Nursing’s director of graduate programs, said the department is excited because this is the first Fulbright scholar the College of Nursing has ever had.

“It is very definitely an honor,” Budd said. “It’s the national recognition that we have a Fulbright scholar.”

According to the Fulbright Web site, the Fulbright Scholar program was created in 1945 as part of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It was created to work toward world peace through exchanging students and ideas and it offers grants to selected students.

Ghazi, who taught at a health institute in Yemen, said the problems with the health care system are what inspired him to further his education.

“There is no policy and no rules, which is why (hospital administration) is not effective,” Ghazi said, describing the troubles he had at the hospital where he worked.

Ghazi created a nursing policy manual for the hospital over the course of a year and the hospital’s administration did not respond well.

He also said health care education is in need of help.

“They insist I have to teach,” Ghazi said, describing how the health institute made him teach from books printed in 1974. “I feel guilty for the students – what I was teaching them.”

He eventually had to resign from this position because he said the institute would not allow him to teach from more modern books, which made him uncomfortable.

Ghazi said while the United States is very different from Yemen, he is not worried about the transition.

“It’s totally different I’m sure,” Ghazi said. “(But) I’m from the type who is easily adapted.”

One thing he is concerned about is that he is homesick already, and he hasn’t even left home yet.

“I’m preparing myself for it,” Ghazi said. “(This is the) first time for me to travel from Yemen.”

Budd said the transition may be easier due to the mix of students the College of Nursing has.

“We do have many more international students than other universities,” Budd said. “It shows that we are really well thought of internationally.”

Ghazi said his dream is to help improve the health care system in Yemen when he returns home.

“One of my main goals is to establish nursing administration organization in Yemen,” Ghazi said.

Ghazi and several of his colleagues are studying now to learn how to create the system they want.

“Here, the governmental sector, it is very poor in all aspects, so private sector at least you have some opportunity,” Ghazi said. “You know when you have the basics and the knowledge, it will be easier to establish that.”

Contact minority affairs, health and nursing and religion reporter Sara Bennett at [email protected].