When Amal’s father-in-law was 96 years old, he had a stroke. A tribal leader in Oman, he suddenly needed assistance with basic daily activities. And though she’d made a career of caring for people, Amal now wanted to learn even more.

So inspired, she sought a doctorate in nursing from UWM, with the goal of improving care for the aging in Oman. With four children and a job as a community nursing educator, leaving her home in Muscat was not an option, so she did most of her studies online from Oman.

Through UWM’s distance learning program, she joined the 2013 cohort of online doctoral students. She also found a strong research mentor in Christine Kovach, a UWM distinguished professor of nursing and internationally recognized expert in the care and treatment of older adults with dementia.

Support from the Oman Ministry of Health enabled Amal to make several trips to the United States, where she worked with Kovach on research involving Milwaukee-area nursing homes. “I learned greatly from my exposure to research in the USA and at UWM,” Amal says.

Oman doesn’t have nursing homes like the U.S., mainly because elder care is viewed as a religious and traditional obligation for families and the community. Within that context, Amal’s dissertation research explored how strong networks and more frequent visits from family members and home health workers affects the care of older adults.

And in December 2017, during a rare trip to Milwaukee, she successfully defended her dissertation, then returned home to Oman with her doctorate. She hopes her work will help Oman’s plans for improved elder care, especially regarding the country’s expected increase in elders with dementia who live at home.

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