Anderson University School of Nursing students graduate with something extra: an international experience applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to people in need. The unique global education program allows senior nursing students to travel to different places at a low cost so they can use their gift to provide nursing care for those residents.
This spring, a group of 10 nursing students traveled to Salem, Tamil Nadu, a state in India, for three weeks. Assistant Professor of Nursing Jason Pierce led the trip. Senior Renée Lyding was one of the students who had the privilege of traveling to India for a second time. Having a passion for global communities, she was excited to return. “It is eye-opening to see how a huge population has so little healthcare,” said Lyding, who believes these trips are what make AU nursing students prepared for the working world. “I chose AU because they offer trips that allow us to gain experience.”
[Photo: Renée Lyding was among the group of nursing students who recently traveled to India.]
Prior to traveling, students were required to conduct research on a specific topic. This topic prepared each student for the job they would be in charge of during the trip.
“I was assisting with prenatal care, so I had to research obstacles of prenatal care in India,” said Lyding. In researching, Lyding found that prenatal care is available in India, but often families cannot afford it or are against it. Not only did students help give care to patients, they also had the opportunity to educate other young students. “We got to teach beginning nursing students at a newly established nursing program in Salem,” said Lyding.
Students continue to develop their research during the trip by observing India’s culture and healthcare systems. “No matter how much research we do, nothing can prepare you for the poverty, the smells, the heat, and the brokenness you encounter on these visits,” said Lyding. “This helps us to compare the previous research we’ve done to what we actually experience.”
The School of Nursing partnered with India Gospel League, which helps mission groups travel to India at a minimal cost. India Gospel League specializes in children’s ministries, evangelism and church planning, rural and economic growth, and medical outreach. The organization focuses on impacting lives culturally and spiritually, or as their mission statement says, “touching lives and transforming communities.”
The organization also allows medical teams and students to come in and meet the needs of those who have little medical care. “Some of these patients have not been checked or treated for a long time, so it warms our hearts to know we mean so much,” says Lyding.
In the past, the AU School of Nursing has provided healthcare in several countries including Honduras, South Korea, Kenya, and Russia. They also have worked at local facilities such as the Hooverwood Center of Indianapolis. The overall goal of the global mission trips is to give students an eye-opening experience to cultural obstacles. “We hope it will be an experience that stays with the students and informs their care throughout the rest of their careers, near or far,” said Pierce.
— Kelli Webster is a junior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in psychology. Webster 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 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.