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Leadership Institute Scholar Applies Principles Globally, Locally

Sare, MSN, RN, is the founder/CEO of Nurses for Nurses International, and a graduate of NWCPHP's 2009–10 Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute (NWPHLI).
Leadership Institute Scholar Applies Principles Globally, Locally

Michele Sare with colleagues

November 21, 2011

Michele Sare arrived in Port au Prince, Haiti 40 minutes before the devastating January 2010 earthquake. It was her first trip to the country, and she had intended to assess what it would take to teach a public health nursing course in a country with little public health infrastructure. Instead, she ended up working alongside young Haitians to save hundreds of people before aid could arrive. "It was six long terrible days," she recounts.

Sare, MSN, RN, is the founder/CEO of Nurses for Nurses International, and a graduate of NWCPHP's 2009–10 Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute (NWPHLI). She has a passion for public health nursing and for addressing social inequalities in health—which is why she embarked on that initial trip to Haiti and decided to seek additional leadership skills in the NWPHLI program.

"Nursing is poised to address the inequities, chasms, and disparities facing over two billion people. I think it's crucial that we engage in a hearty dialogue about what leadership is. We as a profession need this type of skill-building training to light a fire under us. I earnestly work to apply the principles I gained at the Institute."

Understanding that there are techniques to being an effective leader is among those principles, according to Sare. She said the opportunity to be mentored by leaders throughout the year-long Institute was equally as important. Since graduating from NWPHLI, Sare's busy professional agenda has been filled with opportunities to apply what she learned.

In the summer of 2010, she returned to Haiti to teach public health nursing at the only functioning college of nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. She also partnered with Enna Trevathan, DNP, MSN, at the University of San Francisco College to create a suite of strategic, operational, and business plans for the Association of Peasants of Fondwa—an entire education system, schools, clinic, and orphanage devastated by the earthquake.

And in January 2011, Sare traveled to Haiti again to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the quake and to launch a culturally aligned professional development course she had developed for a large hospital in Port au Prince.

Sare's global health work, however, does not preclude her from remaining committed to local public health service. "There's no difference," Sare says. "Globally and locally, it's the same principles. People are people, and the health of one affects us all." She has been actively involved in addressing the health needs of frontier communities in Montana and helped get federal funding for a mobile clinic for dental, maternal and child health, immunizations, and primary health care. In addition, she has been at the forefront of ensuring the Montana public health department meets the new national accreditation standards by contributing to the state's legal framework to support accreditation. Finally, Sare has recently accepted a position as an Associate Professor at Montana State University to develop the next generation of public health nurses.

Despite all that, when asked what the toughest thing she has accomplished since graduating from NWPHLI, Sare replies, "I have embraced social media and actively use it! I am sure Dr. [Patrick] O'Carroll, one of the guest speakers during our NWPHLI on-site visits, would be happy!" She says she has been learning more about public health through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and plans to use technologies such as Bloggie, on her next trip to Haiti.

Sare concludes, "I am grateful for the expertise, time, guidance, and opportunities that Dr. [Susan] Allan and the NWPHLI team have provided in the realm of public health leadership as I venture forth. I believe continuing to strengthen public health leaders is a cardinal solution to lessening the injustices surrounding health care!"

You can read more about the response and journey of recovery following the 2010 Haiti earthquake in Sare's recently published book, Today, Leogane.

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