Nursing scholarships provide qualified students with the means to pursue their education
Lebanon is in the midst of a severe economic crisis, with more than 80% of the population struggling to afford food and medicine. Recent years have pushed the healthcare system to its limit, as the pandemic and the unprecedented financial crisis have beset the country. A shortage of healthcare professionals like nurses is one of the major challenges.
Anera supporters are helping to fix the growing gap in nursing by educating the next generation. In October 2022, we began the second year of a nursing scholarships program generously funded by Dr. Alfred and Dina Khoury. For the 2022-2023 school year, we expanded the Alfred and Dina Khoury nursing fund to support ten students in total. The fund, called the Nurses for Lebanon program, covers a percentage of the students’ tuition fees until graduation.
Maryam, an 18-year-old Lebanese citizen and university student, is one of the scholarship recipients. She is passionate about her career choice. “I firmly believe that a nurse can make a significant difference in a patient's life.”
The Crisis in Lebanon’s Healthcare System
“I firmly believe that a nurse can make a significant difference in a patient's life.”
For decades, Lebanon’s healthcare industry provided patients from across the wider region with world-class treatment. Now it faces an existential threat. As runaway inflation has swallowed savings accounts and salaries, many of the country’s skillful healthcare workers are emigrating in search of better pay abroad. Hundreds of healthcare professionals, including nurses, are seeking work outside of Lebanon in hopes of higher incomes and a better future. The World Health Organization has recently reported that 30% of registered nurses have left Lebanon. With many hospitals and medical clinics now short staffed, patient care is jeopardized.
Even many nursing students plan to eventually leave Lebanon. Hala is an 18-year-old Syrian-Palestinian nursing student and Nurses for Lebanon scholarship recipient. “Because I think the future will be better outside of our region,” she says, “I hope to be able to travel after I graduate.”
Hala comes from a family that has been made refugees twice over, first from Palestine, then from Syria. “We left Syria in 2012 as the security situation grew worse, and I continued my education in Lebanon,” she says. “We lost everything when we fled Syria. And as Palestinian Syrians, we are not allowed to work in Lebanon except in specific fields, making our situation extremely difficult, especially given the recent crises.”
Despite the hardships of her situation, Hala has excelled academically. She had dreamed of going to college to study nursing. “I was still determining if I'd be able to attend university and pay for it,” she says. “The fact that I was chosen for this scholarship was a miracle in itself.”
Hala says she plans to continue her studies “to be an independent and productive member of society. There are many challenges in life, but we must never give up.”
“The fact that I was chosen for this scholarship was a miracle in itself.”
Educating New Nurses
Our Nurses for Lebanon program supports students enrolled in nursing programs at reputable universities in Lebanon. Anera has partnered with four universities for the program: American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, the University of Balamand and Beirut Arab University.
To spread awareness about the scholarship opportunities, Anera held information sessions for high school seniors at Al Markaziyah and Al Wardiah schools in Beirut, at nine UNRWA schools across Lebanon, and for new students at Beirut Arab University.
All of the students eligible for the Nurses for Lebanon scholarship fund are Lebanese or Palestinian from a vulnerable socioeconomic background. And they have earned good grades.
Adnan, an 18-year-old Lebanese university student, was thrilled when his scholarship application was accepted. “The news was very joyful for me and my family!”
He intends to pursue a master's in critical care after college, and possibly a Ph.D. as well. “At a time when we have lost so much in Lebanon,” Adnan says, “we can no longer arm ourselves with anything other than our education. It's the only way we can escape this situation.”
Anera follows up with all of the participating students on their academic progress each semester. During the first year, the Nurses for Lebanon fund supported three students. Two of the students work to help their families survive amid the financial crisis. These scholarships have helped all of the students to get by financially while pursuing their education.
"Education [is] the only way we can escape this situation."
Muhammad, an 18-year-old Palestinian from Nahr El Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp, says he “chose the nursing profession because I enjoy helping people.”
“After graduation,” he says, “I'll start working right away to gain experience and support my family, but I'll make an effort to continue my education and earn higher degrees.”
Muhammad is already thinking about how he can use his career to help others. “If my situation improves, I would like to return the favor and assist a student in paying for his university, similar to what happened to me, or even help them find opportunities to obtain scholarships.”