AWB has done four projects in Ethiopia, three at Addis Ababa University (AAU) and one at Hawassa University (HU). The first project at AAU was a Needs Assessment as the first step in assisting the University to establish a Family Medicine programme. This was done in partnership with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. In our second project at AAU, AWB partnered with the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto to assist in creating a Master’s of Science in Nursing. The third project at AAU followed on the development of the Master’s of Science in Nursing, where three additional AWB volunteers concentrated on building the capacity of nursing leaders to undertake research and influence policy by supporting Master’s level curriculum development and teaching

In our fourth project, AWB joined with the University of Saskatchewan to develop the undergraduate programme in Nutrition at Hawassa University. These projects are part of Ethiopia’s long-standing commitment to the education and health of its people.

Addis Ababa University


International Family Medicine Advisory Committee

Needs Assessment for Family Medicine —a new specialty in Ethiopia

In 2011 a team from the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto conducted a Needs Assessment that  informed the content and design of the curriculum for a new post-graduate specialization in Family Medicine.  Jane Philpott and Katherine Rouleau,  the AWBmvolunteers, began the study in February 2011. In May and June 2011, three additional AWB volunteers, Eileen Nicolle, Kevin Bezanson and Marc Abbyad, along with five graduate students from AAU’s program in Public Health, completed the first part of the research, a time-motion study that  provided information about the current practices of general practitioners in Ethiopia. The second part of the study, a stakeholder survey of what should be included in the curriculum for the new program, was done in January 2012.

“The feedback from the graduate students in the  Public Health Master’s program has been invaluable in making adjustments to the project to ensure its success.” -Eileen Nicolle

The Family Medicine specialty has been shown to provide an important contribution to the improvement of health systems. Rather than a disease-by-disease approach to health care, Family Medicine  focuses on people and populations. Family physicians are well-trained specialists in general medicine who can lead primary care teams that deliver  coordinated, comprehensive and cost-effective health care. Currently, a Family Medicine specialty does not exist in Ethiopia. Its development will help address the overwhelming health concerns of the country.

More About Our Ethiopia Project

Some of the benefits of Family Medicine training include:

  • Recruitment and retention of generalists
  • Physicians with improved technical, surgical and emergency skills
  • Improved health systems: Better health outcomes & lower costs
  • Skilled leadership of inter-professional primary care teams

“Please do not lose the momentum on this important project.” Ethiopian doctor at Family Medicine meeting at AAU

AWB Volunteers

Jane Philpott,  M.D. (University of Western Ontario) is Chief of Family Medicine at  Markham Stouffville Hospital in Markham Ontario and an Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto.

Katherine Rouleau, MDCM (McGill University) is an Assistant Professor, in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and is Active Staff in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at St-Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario

Kevin Bezanson, MD (McMaster University),  is a Lecturer in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto and a family physician practicing in Palliative Care at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care, Mt Sinai Hospital.

Eileen Nicolle, MD CM (McGill University), is a faculty physician in the Health for All Family Health Team, Department of Family and Community Medicine, at the University of Toronto.

Marc Abbyad, M.Sc (McGill University), is a Project Manager and Software Engineer for Medic Mobile.

2011 – 2012

Master of Science in Nursing

AWB’s second project  focuses on the support and development of the Masters of Science in Nursing program at the Centralized School of Nursing at Addis Ababa University through cooperative teaching and curriculum planning, and thesis mentorship. It  is being carried out jointly with the Centralized School of Nursing at Addis Ababa University  and the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto.  The project had its beginning in meetings held in Addis Ababa in 2007, and  Amy Bender, AWB’s volunteer and an Assistant Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, coordinates the project in collaboration with Asrat Demissie, the Director and Amsale Cherie, a Lecturer and the Research Curriculum Coordinator at the Centralized School of Nursing.

“I am studying depression in hospitalized patients because many patients in Ethiopian health institutions suffer co-morbid conditions, yet depression is not well identified and treated” – Aklilu former Chief Nursing Director at Ayder Referral Hospital

Members of the 2012 ClassThe relationship is organized around tenets of collective and cooperative practice. Efforts are aimed at achieving sustainable, locally desired results by developing the capacity of nurses to undertake research and influence policy, and strengthening nursing leadership through scholarship.  There are currently about 70 students in the Masters of Science in Nursing program, with admission numbers increasing every year.  A total of four teaching trips by the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing faculty and associates is taking place from fall 2011 to spring 2013.

“I chose to study palliative care in Addis Ababa because many people suffer from chronic diseases in Ethiopia, but palliative care is not well understood or utilized” – Hiwot, Lecturer, Gondar University

AWB Volunteer

Amy Bender, Ph.D. (University of Toronto), is an Assistant Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto

Phase I

Bender was at AAU from Nov. 28 to Dec. 10, 2011. She taught classes to second-year students, led seminars, and held individual student conferences. Seminar topics addressed proposal writing and preparing for proposal defense, and students also participated in mock proposal defenses. The related activity of e-mentoring is on-going, and, as the name suggests, is a form of distance learning. It began as a pilot project with current 2nd-year students during an earlier trip in March 2011 in their first year of graduate school. Volunteers were recruited in Toronto (the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing faculty, doctoral students, and advanced practice nurses). To help this initiative, AAU faculty advisers’ email addresses were collected and a central list of students, advisers, mentors, and research topics was created. This list was sent to Canadian mentors so that they include the AAU adviser in all their communications with students throughout the coming term of data collection and analysis.

Because it became apparent that students use Facebook more than email, a Facebook class page was created and mentors were also invited to join. This correspondence on a private Facebook page is a forum for research project support among peers and mentors as students conduct their projects in the coming months. To date, 28 students and 3 mentors are participating.
Bender also met with Centralized School of Nursing faculty (Asrat Demissis, Amsale Cherie, Berhanu Dessa) and with other University of Toronto affiliated AAU faculty outside of nursing to consult about progress and future plans regarding clinical education at the Masters level.

Phase II

AAU EntranceFollowing the initial development of the Master’s of Science in Nursing, three additional AWB volunteers to AAU concentrated on building the capacity of nursing leaders to undertake research and influence policy by supporting Master’s level curriculum development and teaching.

The main activity of the project was classroom teaching. The volunteers engaged students through lectures, small group discussions and exercises in learning about a range of research-related topics, with emphasis on systematic literature search/review and qualitative methodologies. For second year students, they led additional research seminars for more in-depth discussions of the students’ research proposals. There was on-going individual thesis support during the project, on-site and by distance communication. Since the completion of the volunteers’ postings to Addis Ababa University, the research course continues with added curricular changes based on the AWB volunteers’ input.

The immediate beneficiaries of the project are the 145 nursing students taught over two years, improving their knowledge and skills as nurses and nurse educators. The secondary beneficiaries will be the hundreds of students taught by graduates of the Master’s programme in the various nursing departments throughout Ethiopia. Finally, this project will impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Ethiopia, who will benefit from better nursing care.

Comments from some of the students

“The thing I like the most about this class was that there were lots of information flowing from the instructors. And also there was no limitation to communicate our ideas or questions.”

“All topics are helpful and interesting because as we are Master’s students it helps us to know how to do research and how to write proposal and also the method that we are going to use and the ethical considerations.”

“Am really glad to learn by you since we have extremely different socio-cultural background. We learned a lot from even your teaching style.”

“Before I took this course, it was difficult to me to distinguish between quantitative and qualitative research. Thank you! I overcame such problem or confusion with your help. ….now I am going to do qualitative research.”

AWB Volunteers

Amy Bender

Amy Bender


Shan Mohammed


Catherine Morash


Anne Simmonds

Amy Bender (Ph.D. University of Toronto) is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

Shan Mohammed (RN MN) is a Ph.D. (candidate) in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.

Catherine Morash (RN MN-NP) is a nurse at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario.

Anne Simmonds (Ph.D., University of Toronto), is a Lecturer in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

This project was supported with the aid of the Toronto Funding Network

Hawassa University


Integrating Community Service Learning into the Undergraduate Nutrition Curriculum

Food insecurity is one of the critical problems influencing the well-being of vulnerable populations, and Ethiopia has one of the highest levels of food insecurity and protein-calorie malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. Addressing this problem not only requires an adequate supply of food but also entails availability, access, and utilization by men and women of all ages, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic levels.  For the past several years, the University of Saskatchewan and Hawassa University (HU) have together explored ways to meet the particular challenges of utilization.

In January 2011 AWB’s volunteer, Carol Henry, began correspondence with faculty members at Hawassa University in an effort to establish a capstone course in Community Service Learning at the senior undergraduate level.  In April 2011 Doreen Walker helped to design the senior Community Service Learning course, and in May and June Henry, and Walker participated in the design of the  Community Service Learning component of the undergraduate course. Walker spent much of her time meeting with Hawassa University faculty and local NGOs and health care personnel who offered support for the project.

From July through September there was further work developing the Service Learning component of the undergraduate course.  In October of 2011 Henry continued this work with Hawassa University faculty in integrating Service Learning into the Undergraduate Nutrition Curriculum, which enhanced an existing senior undergraduate course, again using the Community Service Learning framework. The project supports HU’s commitment to provide innovative, high quality undergraduate and graduate education.  Trained undergraduate faculty integrated Service Learning into the undergraduate curriculum in the fall of 2012.

AWB Volunteers

Carol J. Henry, PhD (University of Western Ontario) Associate Professor of Nutrition and Dietetic, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan

Doreen Walker, Professional Practice Coordinator, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan