Send in the Books

April 1, 2007
Textbook examples: lending a hand to the Iraqi health-care medical initiative, from left, seniors Lauren Garson and Kyle White; nursing master’s student Tina Goodpasture; and Marva Price, director of the Family Nurse Practitioner program and assistant professor of nursing

Textbook examples: lending a hand to the Iraqi health-care medical initiative, from left, seniors Lauren Garson and Kyle White; nursing master’s student Tina Goodpasture; and Marva Price, director of the Family Nurse Practitioner program and assistant professor of nursing. Photo courtesy Marva Price

Right around the time that President George W. Bush was announcing plans to send additional troops into Iraq, officials at the Duke School of Nursing were announcing plans of their own—to send more books.

In early January, members of the School of Nursing community sent thirty-eight cartons containing 901 used medical textbooks to Hawler Medical University in Erbil, Iraq. The idea was conceived during a conversation between Tobin Hill M.S.N. ’01 and Marva Price, an assistant professor of nursing. Hill, who had just returned from serving as a nurse practitioner with the National Guard in Iraq, “mentioned that if we ever had excess books, that the people of Iraq could surely use them,” Price says. “So we put the word out.”

Randall Williams, a local obstetrician who volunteers with Medical Alliance for Iraq, a nonprofit organization working with International Medical Corp. to advance health care in Iraq, used that existing relationship to persuade International Medical Corp. to ship the books to Jordan; from there, they will be carried in by volunteers. Williams says that Iraqi health-care professionals, who once had strong connections with British schools, have long been cut off from the West. “One Iraqi told me that what they wanted most was not another CT scanner, but the most recent obstetrical care guidelines,” he says.

The textbooks cover subjects such as undergraduate nursing, primary care, pediatrics, anaesthesia, surgical nursing, reproductive health, oncology, and geriatrics. “A lot of the accelerated bachelor of nursing students who finished classes in the past year have donated their textbooks,” says Judith Hays, director of the ABSN program. “In fact, most of the books are from 2000 or later.”