Emily Roberts

Nurses Performing Triage in Uganda: Decision-Making in Low Resource Settings

Emily Roberts

With a grant from the International Research Opportunities Program (IROP), Emily Roberts left UNH for Uganda to research the role of the nurse. She had no idea that during her ten–week stay she would spend her days not just researching Ugandan nurses but actually becoming one.

Through observation, interviews, and hands-on experience, Emily explored the effect of education on the nurse's ability to provide care in a rural health center, and how their specific duties affected job satisfaction. She found the nurses to be skilled and quite competent, yet overworked and underpaid, which has a negative impact on job satisfaction and staff retention. The main obstacles are lack of funding for further education, and poor resource distribution and management. Another challenge she discovered in the healthcare setting, but which is affecting the country as a whole, is the growing separation between those in urban areas who are adopting modern Western thought, and villagers who wish to retain their tribal culture and identities.

After returning to UNH, Emily was so moved by her experience that she solicited donations on behalf of a Ugandan nurse, Hellen Adengo, to help further her education and allow her to become a Registered Nurse. Hellen is currently the charge nurse at the Buchanagandi health center where Emily did her research (and where she is returning this fall to work as an official RN). Through the donations of twenty-three individuals, friends, family, professors, colleagues, and perfect strangers, Emily was able to meet her goal of $2000, or $3 million Ugandan Shillings, which will cover Ellen’s enrollment in the 18-month-long program.

Nursing Professor Gene Harkless served as Emily's mentor. You can read more about Emily's research experience in Inquiry.

UPDATE (May 5, 2010): Emily was recently accepted by the University of California-San Francisco for their PhD in Nursing program through the Department of Family Studies in Health Education, Promotion and Program Development.

Emily Roberts returned to the UNH campus to discuss her work, academic preparation, and career path with students and others in the university community. See the video here.