Of the nine nursing institutes in Oman, Mason alumni lead four of them—three are deans and one is a director. There soon will be a fifth.
“Forty years ago, Oman had one hospital and 20 beds. Now there are 60 health care facilities in Oman,” says Kevin Mallinson, assistant dean for PhD and research programs in Mason’s School of Nursing. “Mason has had a big impact on Oman wherever in the country [these alumni] serve.”
The path to helping modernize public health care in Oman started at Mason in the early 1990s, when Rita Carty, then dean of the College of Health and Human Services, met with the Omani Minister of Health at a World Health Organization conference in Geneva. She convinced him to send a few high school graduates to study nursing at Mason. Those graduates, she suggested, would return equipped to lead in Oman’s academic nursing institutes.
At the time, Oman was on the verge of a renaissance as the country’s leader, Sultan Qaboos Said Al Said, recognized that education was key to reducing his country’s chronic illiteracy and improving its public health care system, says Mason alumnus Khamis Al Mezeini, BSN ’96, MSN ’00, PhD Nursing ’17.
The Minister of Health, Ali Mohammad Mosa, chose four students— Abdallah Al Batashi, BSN ’96, MSN ’00; Juma Al-Maskari, BSN ’96, MSN ’01; Salim Al Toubi, BSN ’96, MSN ’00; and Al Mezeini—who arrived at the Fairfax Campus to work on their bachelor of science in nursing degrees in 1992. They graduated in 1996 but later returned to Mason for their master’s degrees and nursing education certificates.
“I like to call them the backbone of the nursing program in Oman,” says Mason PhD student Abdullah Al Mahrouqi. When he completes his PhD program at Mason, Mahroqui, who is also a college professor, will become the fifth Mason graduate to lead an Omani nursing school.
“Once I started loving [nursing], it changed me,” he said. “That’s why I’m pursuing my PhD here, because I love nursing and I would like to give something back to nursing—teaching and community services.”
Al Mezeini, who earned his PhD at Mason in 2017, 21 years after he earned his bachelor’s degree, acknowledges Mason’s impact on him and his country.
“I believe that George Mason and the School of Nursing molded us to become who we are now,” says Al Mezeini, the dean of the Al Dhahira Nursing Institute. “My country [has] developed rapidly and is now competing with developed countries in health affairs.”