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International nursing programs provide students, educators with opportunities to learn in other countries

Monday November 5, 2012
George Mason University nursing student Meredith Oare, center, with two students in Haiti.
George Mason University nursing student Meredith Oare, center, with two students in Haiti.
(Photo courtesy of Meredith Oare)
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Beatrice Kakiiza, RN
Beatrice Kakiiza, RN, BSN, a nurse educator in Uganda, sought the International Nurse Exchange Program at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore to improve the skills of nurses throughout her country, especially in caring for HIV patients.

During a two-week program in 2010, she said, she learned how to "add value to the education, training projects and patient services provided by the AIDS relief programs."

And others learned from her. Kakiiza served on a panel at UMSON with nurses from Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria and Guyana. They educated dozens of undergraduate students about the challenges faced in providing care in their own countries. "An appeal was made for students and faculty to visit the developing countries for firsthand information," Kakiiza said.

International nursing programs provide a venue for nurses from many countries to have a conversation about nursing practice, education and research. Mid-Atlantic schools of nursing hosting international nurse visitors and facilitating visits of U.S. nurses abroad include the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

"We have the Center for Global Nursing, which I think is unique for a school of nursing," said Rachel Breman, RN, MSN, MPH, program manager for the The Center for Global Nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. The university is really "forward thinking because in order to have future global leadership you need to train your students to have an interest in global issues and how to work globally. These programs that we have create that in our student body."

Those programs include the Student Leadership Rotation, where students receive hands-on clinical experience in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, China, Haiti and other locales.


Marik Moen, RN
In addition to the exchange program, UMSONís Office of Global Health, created in 2009, offers an International Visiting Scholars Program. "Nurses identify a topic or a faculty member they want to pursue further studies with and then we host them," said Marik Moen, RN, MSN, MPH, assistant professor. "We donít pay for their lodging, but we help them find housing and pair them with faculty members.

"We learn so much from our participants. Part of the schoolís mission is to build the capacity of the global workforce. The only way we can do that, short of going there and being present, which we do, is to have them come here and tell us what their strengths and weaknesses really are," Moen said.

Some students are so eager to learn abroad they create their own opportunities. Meredith Oare, a junior nursing student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., volunteered with a medical mission to Fort Liberte, Haiti, last November. She believed the eight-day trip "would confirm my intention to devote my life to the field of nursing," said Oare, 20.

It did.

"The gift of firsthand patient/medical professional experience taught me so much and helped me to gain confidence and appreciate what I have already learned in the classroom back home," said Oare, who assisted a Haitian physician in the small townís clinic. She plans to resume her medical mission to Haiti in December.

For Kakiiza, her time spent at UMSON boosted her confidence and improved her documentation skills.

"It made me realize the importance of paying attention to small details when attending to patients," said Kakiiza, who plans to complete her masterís in public health this fall.

"I have been able to share my experience with different nurses here in Uganda at different platforms [including] at a nurses conference in Nairobi in January. From INEP organizers, I learned how to treat people with a lot of respect and patience. I would recommend this INEP for all nurses."

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer.


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