UNIVERSITY OF miami, school of nursing and health studies
WHO Collaborating Centre for nursing human resources development and patient safety 


Johis Ortega, PhD, ARNP, ACNP-BC, ENP-BC, FNP-BC, FAAN BC; Associate Professor of Clinical, Associate Dean for Hemispheric and Global Initiatives

Cindy L. Munro, Dean & Professor; PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FAAN, FAANP, FAAAS


Carlos Arismendi, Project Manager, School of Nursing and Health Studies

Support PAHO/WHO in its efforts to strengthen nursing education leadership competencies, with a focus on training programme development in nursing and patient safety.

Under PAHO/WHO’s direction, support the dissemination of information and share knowledge regarding patient safety to enhance nursing workforce development and technical expertise. 

Support PAHO/WHO with the development and strengthening of nursing workforce development, patient safety, and health disparities.


The University of Miami SONHS hosted the CARICOM members who attended the NWHA meeting in Miami

    • Online Patient safety Course development, in collaboration to various Universities of Latin America, the course objective is to develop patient safety training available to nurses and health professionals around the world. The course is divided in 3 modules where the student will learn to identify core aspects of patient safety culture, safety and quality measures and develop an improvement of a strategic plan.
      Nursing student observerships at the University of Miami Health System and Simulation Hospital.
    • Mission trips: As part of the School of Nursing & Health Studies commitment to educate cultural sensitivity and provide skills in a real setting scenarios, mission trips are organized with organizations and universities outside of the US to provide primary care to rural populations, conduct health screenings and educate the population.
    • Participated in the XV Ibero American conference of Nursing Education ALADEFE- September 2019
    • Ortega J, Cometto MC, Zárate Grajales RA, Malvárez S, Cassiani S, Falconi C, et al. Distance learning and patient safety: report and evaluation of an online patient safety course. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2020;44:e33. RPSP.2020.33
    • Markaki, A., Wingo, N., Watts, P., Steadman, L., Coles, K., Rae, T., Theus, L., & Ortega, J. (2020). Building capacity for nursing and midwifery education through an asynchronous online course. Journal of Nursing Education, 59, 1, 38- 41.
    • NHWA Event welcoming Minister of Health and CNOs from CARICOM Region
    • XVII Pan American Nursing Research Colloquium: November 11-13, 2020


The Certificate in Nursing Education is transforming Nursing Education in Guyana

The University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) marks its 10th year as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Collaborating Centre for Nursing Human Resources Development and Patient Safety. Under the leadership of Dean Cindy L. Munro and Director Johis Ortega, the SONHS Collaborating Centre’s goals for the 2016-2020 designation cycle include working with the Washington, D.C.-based PAHO/WHO to:

    • Develop and strengthen nursing education in the Americas, with a focus on curriculum development in nursing care and patient safety.
    • Disseminate critical information and promote knowledge sharing regarding patient safety to enhance nursing workforce development and technical expertise in the Americas.
    • Develop and strengthen multi-center research projects in the Americas, with a focus on nursing workforce development, patient safety, and health disparities. 

The ultimate aim is to increase access to quality health care for all populations through an “educate the educators” framework in critically under-resourced regions. This model of teaching faculty members and clinicians to provide education to others creates a positive ripple effect that allows communities to chart their own futures.

The SONHS Collaborating Centre designated “Simulation Strategies Workshop for Patient Safety” in cooperation with the school’s International Academy for Clinical Simulation and Research. The customizable course target Spanish-speaking health care professionals seeking knowledge of simulation and how to integrate it into existing nursing education curricula. The course may be taught throughout the PAHO region and beyond or on site, at the school’s 41,000-square-foot Simulation Hospital, which opened September 2017.

The Centre also offers free web-based distance education courses for nurses, students, and faculty through the PAHO and the school virtual portals. These include “Nursing Leadership: Empowering Nurses in Latin America and the Caribbean”, “Nursing and Patient Safety” (, and online certificate courses on topics such as HIV prevention and care, domestic violence, and medical error prevention. Over 11,000 people around the world have taken the “Nursing and Patient Safety Course” in Spanish; more than 1,000 have complete it in English, and over 900 have accessed the Portuguese version. 

UM SONHS faculty experts in maternal and child health, Dr. Rosina Cianelli and Dr. Natalia Villegas, collaborated with PAHO/WHO and collaborating centers in Chile, Brazil, University of Michigan, and University of Pennsylvania to develop 5 virtual modules with the aim of reducing maternal and child mortality in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua. The two faculty members from UMSONHS facilitated three webinars 1) HIV and Lactation; 2) Promotion on Maternal Lactation; 3) HIC and pregnancy for international course participants. The project analyzed each country’s current maternal healthcare workforce and implement maternal healthcare training programs in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to advance maternal healthcare in the Region of the Americas towards Universal Access to Healthcare, Universal Health Coverage, and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Certificate in Nursing Education for Guyana’s Nurse Educators – a collaboration of the School of Nursing and Health Studies, the Ministry of Public Health in Guyana, PAHO’s regional office in Guyana, and PAHO headquarters in Washington, D.C. continues to flourish in increasing the nation’s number of qualified nurse educators. SONHS faculty Mary McKay and Debbie Salani developed and led the nurse educator program, covering how to conduct theoretical and clinical instruction with an emphasis on patient safety. 

They structured the certificate program around the National League for Nursing Nurse Educator competencies, Interprofessional Education Collaborative competencies, and WHO Nurse Educator competencies, conducting baseline assessments of the educational needs and tailoring the course content to specific challenges facing nursing education in Guyana. They traveled to Guyana four times in 2018 to conduct onsite teaching and mentoring for 22 nursing tutors representing Guyana’s one private and thee government hospitals. The tutors enrolled in this certificate program will educate countless generations of students in best practices for patient safety, infection prevention, and other clinical concerns. 

We are proud to mark our first decade as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre and look forward to continued capacity building with our partners in the Americas.

    • Ortega J, Hooshmand M, Foronda C, Padron M, Simon D, Waters M, et al. (2018). Developing nurse leaders across the Americas: evaluation of an online nursing leadership course. Rev Panam Salud Publica, 42:e152.Doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2018.152.
    • Nursing Education program in Guyana.
    • Provided technical support for our free online programs (Patient Safety and Leadership)
    • The Certificate in Nursing Education Program in another country of the Caribbean.
    • Publish the results of the Patient Safety Online Course.
    • Continue technical support for our online programs (Patient Safety an leadership)

SONHS have maintained an active bilateral students exchange for the last 10 years. We have conducted two mission trips to Haiti and one to Dominican Republic every year for the last six years where we serve the most vulnerable population.