Acknowledging history while embracing the future

Categories: Education, Featured, and Leadership.

How did I come to the University of Luxembourg, the place of my new job where I reported to work on the 1st of November 2022?  It’s a beautiful, unexpected story, that I would like to share with you.

Since the year 2000, I was a lecturer at the Nursing and Midwifery Department of Haute Ecole Léonard de Vinci. I was very happy there and had the opportunity to create and innovate new courses, especially in Paediatric Palliative Care (PPC) for undergraduate and postgraduate students. I loved my colleagues and was so happy to ride my bicycle in the morning crossing the forest to give my lessons. I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone.

However, in the past few years, I was deeply touched by the suffering of nursing students, who told me that they felt like “being at the end of their lives”.  I found similarities with what I experienced when I was working in PPC.  How could I promote the quality of life of nursing students? The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests 6 million nurses are missing in healthcare settings. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has even worsened the situation. (WHO, 2020

I defended my Ph.D. thesis in December 2020 at the Institute of Health and Society (IRSS-UCLouvain) in Brussels. My research was focused on the quality of life of children with life-limiting conditions. Since then, I haven’t succeeded in receiving funding to continue different research projects on PPC, despite having responded to several national and international calls for application.

I felt like I should actively apply for new professional positions in different areas, which could help me continue to do PPC research. After quite a long journey through different countries and applications, I was invited and shortlisted by the University of Luxembourg on 8th June 2022.

This very young multilingual and multicultural, international research university (19 years old) ranks 25 worldwide in the Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings 2022 (!/page/0/length/25/name/luxembourg/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats). The University of Luxembourg was mandated by the government to build 7 new Bachelors programs in nursing and midwifery.

In this country, for 28 years, nursing education was provided at a college level. Being at 70% dependent on cross-border nurses (from Germany, France, and Belgium), revealed a critical point during the recent pandemic, Luxembourg decided to establish new nursing programs (bilingual in French and German) at the University, hoping to promote the quality of care and attract people to the nursing profession.

I am so grateful to collaborate with Prof. Laurence Bernard coming from the faculty of nursing science at the University of Montreal, appointed on 31st August 2022, together with me as a professor in nursing sciences. We complement each other professionally and have a lot of pleasure working together!

Our mission is to lay the foundation for a new discipline  (Nursing sciences) at the University of Luxembourg and to make the liaison between the government, the University, the existing nursing education staff at the college, the hospitals and the community to establish a strong collaborative approach to new education and research programs in nursing sciences.

The special gift for which I am particularly grateful to the University of Luxembourg, is the opportunity I received to offer a fully-funded doctoral and a postdoctoral position on PPC.

Four specialized programmes in nursing sciences will start in September 2023 (paediatrics, mental health, anaesthesiology and intensive care, perioperative care) including gateways for the nurses graduating in Luxembourg.

One year later, in September 2024, other Bachelors in general nursing sciences, Midwifery and radiology are expected to start.

This means establishing the curricula on evidence-based nursing and the local context and needs of care, ordering all the essentials books in nursing sciences for the library, calculating the budget, listening to all stakeholders, establishing the future teaching staff, recruiting academics and lecturers, preparing conferences, meeting the representatives of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research as well as the Ministry of Health.

It is a fascinating new challenge having the opportunity to imagine and create the best nursing education and receive all the means to do it. What a privilege!

It is time to act Now! A shortage of nurses is seriously threatening our public health.

Pina Bausch, a German choreographer, founder of the Tanztheater in Wuppertal, said:

“Tanzt, tanzt, sonst sind wir verloren!”  which means “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost!”

I’m ready to dance with Laurence Bernard and everybody else who will join us to pave the way for nurturing the new generation of nurses who will learn the essential tools to advocate with passion, perseverance, compassion, and expertise for all persons they will encounter on their professional journey as nurses.

I would like to conclude by sharing this with you: Life is full of surprises. Be patient, be humble, persevere and keep hoping because one day, it might happen that new doors open to you. For me, it was very difficult to acquiesce to this offer. I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone in Brussels. Changing professional positions implies a grieving process. It is about trusting others. I resisted till the end, but now I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to act for what I found has a true meaning. All my previous jobs as a paediatric palliative care liaison nurse, as a lecturer in nursing and as a researcher has prepared me for this next step. Looking forward to continuing to collaborate within the paediatric palliative care field!

Marie Friedel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *