Ten VSU nursing students traveled to Nicaragua for study abroad June 25-July 4, 2015. The course, NURS 3050: Field Study in Transcultural Care, served as their required elective for the nursing program. The course is taught by Dr. Vanessa Jones, with an objective to expose nursing students to other cultures to provide insight and assist students in developing cultural competency in nursing practice. “When students see firsthand where patients were before immigrating to the U.S.; the poverty, the oppression that is often cultural norm; they have an appreciation and understanding that allows them to see past their patient’s illness, break through stereotypes they may be holding on to, and truly see the human they are caring for.”
VSU collaborated with Comunidad-Connect, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Nicaragua, after Dr. Jones met the organization’s co-founder, Jon Thompson, last fall. Mr. Thompson is an Atlanta native who founded the organization with his partner in 2006.
While on the trip, the students participated in a variety of activities and service learning projects. On Saturday, they met with third year Nicaraguan nursing students from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) in Matagalpa. While there, they presented on nursing culture in the U.S. and then dialogued with the UNAN students and professor to compare the differences in nursing practice of the two countries.
Sunday, the students performed health teaching for approximately 60 mothers at the Comunidad-Connect clinic in Los Robles on the topics of child development, nutrition and dental care. They handed out toothbrushes, toothpaste, learning packets and cups.
Monday included home visits and short health teachings on Chagas Disease prevention in Los Robles. This was followed by service learning projects which included installing light diffusers in two homes, painting a home’s interior with insect repelling paint and installing concrete floors in homes. All these projects improve the health of the families in the homes by preventing insect-related illnesses such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Chagas disease.
Additionally, students visited two community-based clinics, two hospitals, and learned about the Casa Materna program to compare the differences in the Nicaraguan and U.S. health systems. As part if Comunidad-Connects sustainable tourism program, students were treated to a piñata party, hiking to a waterfall and up a mountain to Peña de la Cruz in Jinotega, kayaking and a trip to Granada.
Next year’s Nicaragua study abroad course is scheduled for June 23-July 2, 2016. If you’re interested in this course for your elective, contact Dr. Jones for details.