First oncology graduation ceremony at Augusta Victoria Hospital

An AVH graduate shares his excitement with a selfie at a reception after the graduation ceremony. Photo: LWF Jerusalem/ T. Montgomery
An AVH graduate shares his excitement with a selfie at a reception after the graduation ceremony. Photo: LWF Jerusalem/ T. Montgomery

Eleven students receive diploma in oncology nursing

JERUSALEM/ GENEVA, 24 June 2015 (LWI) – The first class of oncology nurses have graduated from the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. Eleven post-graduate students received a diploma in Medical Oncology Nursing on 16 June, as a result of the agreement between the hospital run by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Betanien University in Norway.

"I can make a difference now in the lives of cancer patients and their families not only because I know the treatments,” Wassim Rawashdeh, a graduate from the West Bank town of Hebron, said. “I can make a difference because I learned how to listen, how to educate and how to support those patients and their families in their difficult journeys."

Cooperation with Norway

The graduates were part of a program that ran from January 2013 until June 2015 and was supported by the Norwegian Government and Norwegian Church Aid. The Representative of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund, attended the ceremony and expressed his support for the graduates and the importance of the AVH oncology services.

“The graduates here today are a special group - the cream of the crop,” Rev. Mark Brown, LWF Regional Representative in Jerusalem, said in his address to the graduates. “You have already been successful nurses. You know how demanding the profession is and the self-sacrifice that comes with it.”

“As nurses, you are often expected to care more about your patients than for yourselves. As nurses, you are called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty for your patients, putting aside your own needs. As oncology nurses, you have made an even deeper commitment to making a difference in someone’s life every day that you go to work,” Brown said.

Tribute to the late Dr Tawfiq Nasser

The cohort was named after the AVH Chief Executive Officer Dr Tawfiq Nasser, who died from cancer in May 2015. Dr Nasser shaped the hospital into the leading center for nephrology and oncology in the Palestinian territories. During the celebration, the Palestinian Oncology Society presented a plaque to Tawfiq’s family in recognition of his service.

Amin Nasser, father of Nasser, was among those handing out diplomas to the graduates. He did so together with Dr Walid Nammour, who has been acting CEO of the hospital since Tawfiq Nasser’s death.

“Sometimes we feel the tears in our eyes but we prevent them from coming out…This is life represented in moments of sorrow and others of joy,” Nammour said.

The graduates will continue working in the hospital’s oncology department. “Augusta Victoria Hospital and the Lutheran World Federation pledge to support you in your professional roles and to empower you with systems, structures and processes that will support you in your work and enable you to be full partners in healthcare,” Rev. Brown said in his address to the graduates. “May God give you strength and help you to find great joy in your special calling as oncology nurses.”

Located on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, Augusta Victoria Hospital serves thousands of Palestinian patients annually. It provides specialized medical services in the areas of oncology and nephrology that are unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza.

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