Students share experiences of first study abroad trip to EcuadorKatherine Sylvestre | College of Nursing Apr 19, 2017
Jennifer Dailey-Vail, DNP, RN, WHNP-BC, led eight students on a study abroad trip to Quito, Ecuador last winter. “This is the first time these students, through the College of Nursing, have been able to earn degree program credit outside of the United States in the advanced practice curriculum,” she says. “So our students were in the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program, and nurse-midwifery program and the focus of this was all women’s health.”
Dailey-Vail says it took nearly two years of planning to make the trip happen, but she plans to offer the immersive experience to future students. While abroad, Clinical Instructor and FNP program alumna Ashley Schroyer assisted Dailey-Vail with the pedagogical necessities of a study abroad trip. “I was both a student and a teacher, which was incredible,” says Schroyer. “It was so cool to be in that role and to have that exchange of teaching and learning. Just having another perspective on what health care means gives me even more motivation.”
Gaining different perspectives on health care is also an effect the trip had on the student travelers, who were asked upon their return to make a video responding to two questions: 1) How did this trip change you as a person? and 2) What clinical knowledge did you learn that you wouldn’t have gotten from working with Dailey-Vail or other CON faculty in a U.S. clinic?
FNP student Kimberly Reuter says this global health experience will be the most memorable part of her education. “For me, global health is a huge part of my entire health care career. What made it very special is the different dynamic and how in different countries people focus on holistic care and patient-centered care in a very different way than we tend to here,” she says.
For her unique clinical experience, Reuter describes the group’s visit to a natural healer at Mount Chimborazo: “He talked about all the things that you can do that are holistic in terms of caring for patients and for each other that in no way go against modern medical practice. They’re just things that we haven’t found really good ways to integrate. So I think, for me, a strong takeaway was I want to, in my personal practice, try and find ways to integrate people’s natural care as opposed to just pharmaceutical and medical interventions.”
Another FNP student who was on the trip, Natalie Morshead, says the experience will inform her future practice by teaching her to think of creative solutions without relying solely on technology and state-of-the-art equipment. “A lot of it can be applied to future practice in different situations, preparing us for a real rotation when we’re practicing in clinics where we don’t necessarily have all the resources that we do through our clinical rotations at school,” she says. “This forces us to think outside the box when we don’t have resources like MRIs to fancy specialist referrals to all the things that when we’re in school we’re taught are options.”
FNP student Megan Blanchard says she enjoyed the group aspect of the trip and working closely with her classmates: “I’m really appreciative of the collaboration between all of us. We all have such different backgrounds and different experiences, so bringing that together every second of the day and talking through patient cases and figuring out what we would do in Ecuador and what we would do in the United States—that was really interesting and a really positive learning opportunity.”