Anderson, Indiana

Nursing seniors put learning into practice in China, Belize

Fri, 2010-05-21 08:05 -- univcomm
May 21, 2010

After returning home and getting back into the routine of classes at Anderson University, the graduating nursing class of 2010 had learned what it’s like to care for patients in different environments and perform assessments on people with a different primary language.

belizeThe two trips that were offered this year were to Belize and China. Both trips lasted two and half weeks. The School of Nursing believes this opportunity allows students to step outside their comfort zones and experience how health care is delivered in other countries.

[Photo: AU nursing student Jenna Yeager with a young patient in Belize.]

Assistant Professor of Nursing Judy Shockey Carter led 13 nursing students around the northwest part of Belize to work alongside physicians in a hospital. “We stayed at a Seventh Day Adventist hospital in San Ignacio and woke up early in the mornings to take care of patients,” said Carter.

Alfonso Ayala, a graduate of the Anderson University School of Theology, is a physician at the hospital and assisted the Belize group during their stay. They participated in festivals, church services, and built relationships with the people of the community.

The students took blood pressures, temperatures, and went on mobile clinics to help coach mothers on how to prepare and take care of their babies after birth. They also studied pharmacological pay management during their stay and worked as nurse techs and aids. They performed injections, dress changes, started IVs, and did assessments in the different communities.

“This was my first time to lead a trip through AU, but I have been on several mission trips in the Caribbean and to Mexico,” said Carter. “I really enjoyed deepening my relationships with the students and interacting with the different communities during our stay.”

chinaBefore going on the trip, the students were expected to know general knowledge of the country they would be visiting. They composed a research paper covering the history, different aspects of cultural religions, family structures, the language, political systems and specific health issues the country was experiencing. After the students stayed in the different cultures, they compared and contrasted what they learned on the trip and how it differs from health care in the U.S.

[Photo: AU nursing students Megan Stout, Jenn Lunsford, Jill Heffernan, and Bonnie Lanning in Hangzhou, China.]

Jenn Lunsford was one of seven students who attended the China trip, led by Professor of Nursing and Graduate Coordinator Dr. Paula Boley.

“Not only did we experience China, but we got to interact within the different communities, evaluate the prevalence there, and learn about traditional Chinese medicines,” said Lunsford. “We stayed in Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shang Hi and studied childhood obesity in the elementary and middle schools of their communities. We were paired up with nursing students of their culture and were given the opportunity to visit their homes and meet their families. I learned what it was like to be a minority in a different culture and how to deal with a language barrier while trying to do assessments on the patients.”

Jenna Yeager traveled with Carter and 12 other students to the warm, sunny weather in Belize. Before Yeager left for Belize, she said the hardest part would be adapting to the culture and trying to communicate with different language barriers. But after returning to the U.S., she was ready to turn around and go back.

“The hardest part was coming home. I have never seen a more beautiful place than Belize, and I got to practice my Spanish with the people of the community,” said Yeager. “Here in American hospitals, we waste a lot. And in Belize, they don’t have a lot of resources. They conserve everything and learn to improvise with everything they’re given. If I think in that concept, it would help me here and teach me to be more resourceful."

Carter is grateful for the overseas trips offered through AU and the opportunity for students to be exposed to different cultures. “I love the well rounded education that AU offers, and this trip is definitely beneficial to the learning experience for the students,” said Carter. “AU is a small campus with a big heart. I have a heart for teaching students. It’s not just about education; it’s about the whole person. I wouldn’t want to teach anywhere else.”

A third group of students, led by Associate Professor of Nursing Marlene Poe-Greskamp remained in the United States, and worked with the homeless in Indianapolis while studying the policies and reform of health care.

—Laura Overman is a junior from Peru, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Overman is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.