The Aga Khan University’s School of Nursing enjoys the privilege of being the first nursing school in Pakistan to be affiliated with a University. The School has grown tremendously over the past four decades, and after the launch of its midwifery programme in 2013, it was renamed the School of Nursing and Midwifery (SONAM).

With a reputation for delivering excellence in the areas of education, research, practice and administration, the School is committed to preparing the next generation of leaders in the field.

AKU-SONAM is the first nursing school in Pakistan to offer a Master of Science in Nursing (MScN) programme, which started in 2001. The curriculum for the programme is designed to have four different components: core courses, speciality tracks, thesis writing, and the practicum. One of its core courses is Leadership and Management in Healthcare.

In a first of its kind module, ten TKN volunteers came together virtually to mentor Masters students at AKU-SONAM for a two-month course on leadership and management earlier this year. Owing to the School’s swift and successful move to online classes since the outbreak of Covid-19, it became possible to have senior nursing professionals from several countries join the course virtually as mentors to nurses based in Karachi.

The TKN volunteers included Dr Salima Ladak, Dr Nasreen Lalani, Dr Farhana Madhani, Dr Salima Meherali, Nausheen Peerwani and Rozina Somani from Canada; Dr Rozina Bhimani and Dr Rozmin Jiwani from the United States; Dr Gulnar Ali from the UK and Shirin Badruddin from Saudi Arabia. Eight of the ten volunteers are AKU alumnae so this was an especially cherished opportunity for them to give back to their alma mater.

“Each TKN volunteer mentored two to three students and provided detailed step-by-step guidance in manuscript writing, publication processes, and important strategies to tackle issues pertaining to leadership and administrative management,” explained Dr Salma Rattani, Assistant Professor at AKU-SONAM and co-director of the course, together with Khairunnisa Hooda.

“The wonderful thing about this experience was that we did not just learn theoretical concepts but, working closely with nursing leaders who are so successful in their fields, it was also a source of immense inspiration for us,” says Sana Iqbal, student, MScN Year 2.

The TKN Mentors expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the course organisers for offering them this fulfilling volunteering opportunity. They also made a commitment to continue mentoring students and young nurses on an ongoing basis.

“It has been an absolute honour to be part of the Chancellor's vision to share the light and transform lives. TKN globally and AKU-SONAM inspire life in so many ways and value passion to create meaningful encounters. To me, it is all about empowerment and enablement with professional authenticity to expand the notion of care,” says Dr Gulnar Ali, AKU-SONAM alumna, on her experience volunteering as a mentor.

“The generosity of time and knowledge sharing from our alumni and TKN volunteers is something we look forward to and highly value at the School. With physical distances not being a hurdle in this day and age, this is the kind of knowledge transmission and exchange that we must all personally invest in to make a greater social impact,” stressed Dr Rozina Karmaliani, Professor and Dean, AKU-SONAM.

The two-month course has now concluded successfully and set the stage for similar innovative online learning initiatives in the future, with an even larger pool of mentors and mentees for other nursing programmes at the School.