Gail Stuart is dean and a tenured Distinguished University Professor in the College of Nursing and a professor in the College of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has been at MUSC since 1985 and has served as Dean of the College of Nursing since 2002. Prior to her appointment as Dean, she was the director of Doctoral Studies and coordinator of the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Graduate Program in the College of Nursing. She was also the Associate Director of the Center for Health Care Research at MUSC and the administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Psychiatry at the Medical University where she was responsible for all clinical, fiscal, and human operations across the continuum of psychiatric care. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Georgetown University, her Master of Science degree in psychiatric nursing from the University of Maryland, and her doctorate in behavioral sciences from Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health. Dr. Stuart has taught in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in nursing. She serves on numerous academic, corporate, and government boards and represents nursing on a variety of National Institute of Health policy and research panels, currently serving as President of the Board of Directors of the Annapolis Coalition of the Behavioral Health Workforce. Dr. Stuart also was a Visiting Professor at Kings College, Instuitute of Psychiatry in London England. She is a prolific writer and has published numerous articles, chapters, textbooks, and media productions. Most notable among these is her textbook, Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing, now in its 10th edition, which has been honored with four Book of the Year Awards from the American Journal of Nursing and has been translated into 5 languages. She has received many awards, including the American Nurses Association Distinguished Contribution to Psychiatric Nursing Award, the Psychiatric Nurse of the Year Award from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and the Hildegard
After a decade of civil war, the people of Liberia had enormous mental health problems related to extensive physical and psychological violence. As there was only one psychiatrist in the country, the Liberian Ministry of Health requested the help of the Carter Center in Atlanta Georgia to address the country’s mental health needs. Nurses were the largest group of health care providers and a program was launched to prepare 150 nurses to become Mental Health Clinicians over five years. I was asked to create the curriculum for this program in partnership with the people of Liberia and to work with Liberian educators, clinicians and health care administrators to implement it in a “train the trainer” model. I have been involved in this project since 2010 without compensation.
The main objectives of the program were:
1) Prepare Liberian nurses/physician assistants as mental health clinicians.
2) Strengthen the knowledge and skills of “mental health trainers/ educators” in the existing Liberian educational and health care systems.
3) Enhance the teaching environment for mental health professionals/paraprofessionals.
I developed a six month curriculum in partnership with key members of the educational, practice and administrative sectors in Liberia. It was based on advanced practice psychiatric nursing content taught in the United States and consisted of five courses taught in a “train the trainer” model over a 6 month period of study. I held curriculum workshops in Liberia in which all courses were reviewed in detail and then revised, refined and reviewed again in a process of continuous interaction.
1) There have been 166 graduates of the program with mental health clinicians placed in all 15 counties of Liberia.
2) The program facilitated the creation of a registered psychiatric nurse accreditation program by the Liberian Board of Nursing.
3) Content from the program was incorporated into pre-service nursing curricula in Liberian nursing schools. As this program ended, the ebola virus disease broke out in Liberia. The mental health clinicians provided much need education, support and care. In addition, the World Bank funded a new initiative to train 100 child and adolescent Nurse Mental Health Clinicians in three years. I created this curriculum and am continuing to work on implementing it in Liberia. To date 64 of the 100 nurses have graduated.