Nursing students have many experiential learning opportunities, most notably through study abroad trips to Costa Rica, Peru and Guatemala.
Experiential learning is a crucial facet of any nursing student’s experience at Adelphi. The University strives to offer study abroad initiatives that enhance the typical nursing education program without interfering with the rich nursing curriculum.
“The nursing curriculum is intense and semester-long study abroad experiences are impossible unless the nursing student delays graduation,” said Maureen Roller, D.N.P., clinical assistant professor and chair of the Global International Nursing Initiative since its inception in 2009. “Therefore, we developed 1-credit courses during the winter intersession and spring break to allow our students to experience a different culture while gaining cultural global community experiences in healthcare.”
Given the popularity of the yearly faculty-led trips to Costa Rica, Peru and a Native American reservation in Arizona—as well as a 3-credit exchange program course in China—the College of Nursing and Public Health has begun expanding its Center for International Education program, with the number of destinations expected to increase each year.
The latest faculty-led trip was to the highlands of Guatemala, which allowed students to immerse in Mayan culture, learn about the Guatemalan people, language and traditions and work directly with the people of Panajachel on the shore of Lake Atitlan.
“We worked closely with the nonprofit organization Mayan Families, who…drove us to one of the nearby towns where we conducted hearing screenings, nutritional assessments and eye exams at the local preschool,” said Jessica Lucero ’14, one of 10 students who made the inaugural trip to Guatemala in January 2014. Jacqueline Brandwein, clinical assistant professor, was the faculty lead on the trip.
“I learned the value of my assessment skills in Guatemala,” Lucero said. “We did not have any technology to rely on. This meant taking manual blood pressures, pulse, respiratory rate and completing a head to toe assessment. It really benefited my nursing career.”
As Adelphi’s first faculty-led study abroad course in nursing, the Costa Rica location remains in high demand, with 19 students making the trip in 2014.
“Costa Rica is a beautiful and friendly country [whose] citizens welcome all the help we provide,” said Helen C. Ballestas, Ph.D., assistant professor and faculty lead for the course. Adelphi’s flourishing relationship with hospitals and clinics as well as with a very active hospice and home care program, called Asociación Misión Consuelo, allows students to interact with a varied patient population with multiple chronic diseases.
“These experiences teach students that caring for patients is a holistic approach [and also] strengthens the students’ assessment skills and reinforces critical thinking,” Dr. Ballestas added. “They are able to apply and synthesize their course work into real nursing practice…These experiences cannot be taught from a textbook.”
Botswana is one future destination now being explored by the College of Nursing and Public Health. Ditsapelo McFarland, Ph.D., associate professor, who was born in Botswana, plans to develop a two-week community-based volunteer 2-credit course in that region for Summer 2015.
Dr. McFarland pointed out that Botswana is “one of the countries in Africa that have developed very successful programs to deal with the HIV epidemic”—having achieved “a 98-percent success rate in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.”
Such trips are important to students’ futures, she said. “Research has shown that employers place a great value on applicants who have international experience,” she said, “because they are flexible and have the ability to communicate well with people from different cultures.”
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