A Volunteer’s mentee becomes a longtime counterpart

By Kelsey McMahon
Aug. 8, 2022

As coordinator of Mother Patern College of Health Sciences’ (MPCHS) Nursing/Midwifery Education Program, Dr. Edwin Beyan oversees the governing policies for both the undergraduate and graduate programs. His responsibilities don’t stop there. He also supervises the infection prevention and control (IPC) program, conducts faculty in-service workshops, engages key national and international stakeholders, and, of course, teaches and advises students.

He’s a registered nurse (RN) with an impressively long list of credentials – Bachelor of Science, Master of Science in education, Ph.D. in health sciences concentrated in health care education, Global Nursing Leadership Institute Scholar, and International Council of Nurses Certified Consultant. His eight years of experience at the college and 24 years of teaching at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia has made the MPCHS alumni a well-respected staff member and role model for his community.

Training nurses to meet Liberia’s health needs is more than just a job for Dr. Beyan. It’s his passion. His dedication to his students and innate curiosity often result in at-home research. “I like to explore the internet to get evidence to support whatever I’m teaching for well-informed activities.”

Dr. Beyan’s penchant for learning has inspired a new generation of medical practitioners, too. “My daughter is trying to become a medical doctor. She's currently in the pre-med program here [at MPCHS],” the dad of five says, smiling and sitting a bit taller.

It’s clear that Dr. Beyan is dedicated to his country. Liberia, which weathered Ebola in 2014 and COVID-19 in 2020, currently faces a severe shortage of locally trained health care professionals to meet primary healthcare needs. The college seeks more master’s level educators for its nurse practitioner program. When it came to finding additional support, Dr. Beyan didn’t hesitate to participate in the Peace Corps’ Virtual Service Pilot.

During the 1970s, Dr. Beyan was taught by Peace Corps Volunteers in elementary, junior high, and high school. He was taught by a Volunteer again during his MPCHS’ master’s studies. Now, having served as a counterpart, Dr Beyan stresses the importance of counterparts establishing roles and expectations. But Dr. Beyan, ever eager to learn, encourages instruction to go both ways. “I have my Ph.D., but even someone who has a master’s could mentor me,” he jokes.

Dr. Janet Gross, a returned Peace Corps Response Volunteer, now works for the college full time, co-teaching leadership and management as well as curriculum development and design in the college’s Master of Nursing midwifery program. When asked what it’s like to work alongside Dr. Beyan, Dr. Gross stated, “He has facilitated entry and acceptance within the communities, which was essential for me to carry out my assignment. I have been able to share not only a professional relationship where we are on equal footing, but also a personal relationship that will endure.”

Today, Dr. Beyan collaborates with four U.S.-based Virtual Service Pilot Participants. Two participants are co-developing and co-teaching a nurse practitioner program curriculum while the other two are mentoring the nursing/midwifery faculty and graduate students. Together, they carry on the five-year-long MPCHS-Peace Corps partnership.

“Throughout my work with MPCHS' Master in Nursing program, I have been continually impressed with the administration and faculty's flexible, intelligent commitment to meeting the many challenges of providing the health care that the people of Liberia need and deserve,” says Virtual Service Pilot Participant Mitchell Silver.

When it comes to virtual collaboration, Dr. Beyan expects the participants to mirror his dedication. “Virtual collaboration really needs a strong commitment from everybody, especially the [participant] who is not in the country.”

As the world starts to resemble the pre-COVID era, Dr. Beyan makes a case for virtual service continuing. “We have to get used to technology and this type of teaching.”

While on-the-ground hands are definitely preferred, the Virtual Service Pilot ensures the permanence of teaching Liberia’s young medical students.

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