All pictures by the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group
The ‘Sir Stephen Miller Nursing School’ is one of the most exceptional programmes at St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group (SJEHG). Since its launch in 1992 it has trained hundreds of nurses in ophthalmology, and remains the only provider of specialist nursing training in Palestine. These nurses go on to work in the facilities of our JOIN member or impart their knowledge to general hospitals across the region, often referring patients for advanced treatment in SJEHG’s services.
Dr Ahmad Ma’ali, current Nursing Director, has risen from one of the first nursing school graduates in the class of ’92 to become SJEHG’s most senior nurse, and first Palestinian Nursing Director. Nazrallah Kallileh, nursing school Senior Lecturer, was also a graduate from the school, and now teaches a new generation of nurses the intricacies of eye care.
Gaza has been under a stringent blockade from 2007, rendering it extremely difficult for any potential nursing students to travel from the turbulent region to study in the ‘Sir Stephen Miller Nursing School in Jerusalem’. This is not only a hindrance to the individuals, who miss out on vital education, but also to healthcare in the region. It leads to shortage of qualified ophthalmic nursing staff for SJEHG’s Gaza Hospital along with other general hospitals in the area.
Launched in 2013 and run every two years, the ‘Gaza Nursing Programme’ aims to train registered nurses from Gaza in ophthalmic care to prepare them to work across the region. The course is for six months and includes both theory and practice. Nazrallah Kallileh travels to Gaza City twice throughout the course in order to impart two intensive theoretical weeks. For the rest of the six months students gain clinical experience under the supervision of the experienced Gaza Hospital staff, in rotating practical blocks.
In the first run of the programme nine students completed the course and were awarded the “Ophthalmic Nursing Assistant” certificate from SJEHG’s School of Nursing.
This year the programme has proved even more popular, with sixteen students undertaking the course. The students came from different universities and geographical areas in Gaza. Three of the students were employed at SJEHG’s hospital in Gaza few months ago and they are undertaking the course to better equip them with ophthalmic nursing knowledge and skills.