From June through August 2008, photographer Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and I traveled throughout Malawi in southeastern Africa, documenting the everyday life of its nurses. For years, I had written tightly focused articles on advances in the treatment of asthma, diabetes, and other diseases and on important issues like the nursing shortage. But when I was given a Nieman Fellowship for Global Health Reporting at Harvard University, I decided to look at a larger theme: how health systems affect the way health care is delivered. I decided to focus on nurses. I chose Malawi because in recent years its health system had nearly collapsed. Nurses are the strong connective tissue that holds Malawi’s health programs together. I also hoped to study innovative efforts to stop the exodus of nurses from this tiny African country.
That’s former Time magazine health journalist and current blogger Christine Gorman, who wrote the text for “At Work with Malawi’s Nurses,” a photo-essay in the June issue of AJN (make sure to click through to the PDF, found under “Article Tools,” since the images are displayed more nicely in that version).