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Student Nurses to Provide Clinical Care in Costa Rica

January 04, 2017

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7242

This winter, sixteen junior nursing students will provide care to the population of Costa Rica in patients' homes and at urban clinics as part of the global seminar spring semester nursing course, "Community and Public Health."

Professors Margaret Carson and Pamela Preston-Safarz who will accompany the students to Costa Rica during the college's winter break January 7-15, will team-teach the course, exploring the role of nurses in health promotion and disease prevention globally.

Upon their return to the classroom, students will not only discuss public health issues, such as the global health care environment, but will also examine sociocultural influences such as immigration and access to health care. However, this year is the first that this course has included an international clinical component.

"This study abroad clinical experience will allow students to apply lecture content in a global clinical setting," says Professor Preston-Safarz. "The area we are working in Costa Rica has a very high unemployment rate and a large portion of immigrants living in poverty. Students will be working within these developing communities to conduct in-home assessments to determine the need for health services and provide referrals to community medical services."

Director of International Programs Sarah Keefe explains that essentially, these student-nurses are "preloading their clinical experience." They will complete their clinical hours in Costa Rica, rather than in New Hampshire, providing them with valuable hands-on nursing experience abroad, as well as the opportunity to practice their Spanish language and communication skills.

Junior nursing major Rachel Hetu is excited to provide care to a different patient population. "Going abroad to Costa Rica will give me a greater perspective on what is out there," she says. "I believe that nurses can get comfortable in what is considered ‘normal.' It is important to realize what is normal for us is not the reality for others. As a nurse, this trip will help me by improving my holistic care, being familiar with culture differences, and individualizing patient care."

Moving forward, Keefe and the nursing department hope that this global seminar will be offered annually.

"We've always run faculty-led programs, but two years ago I wanted to rebrand them to make it clear that these experiences are more encompassing: students are having a global experience," says Keefe. "While many global seminars vary from semester to semester-depending on course offerings and student demand-we would like to provide this particular opportunity each year."

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Story by Jasmine Blais '17
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