Nurses in Costa Rica
Junior nursing students, Sela Rathe, Mia Russo, Riley Shea, Maria Dagher smiling while in Costa Rica during their clinical break. 

A group of Saint Anselm Nursing students traveled to Costa Rica in January, as a part of their NU449 Community/Public Health clinical. Throughout their visit, students were exposed to a variety of different populations and were able to provide care in ways that pushed them outside their comfort zones leaving a big impact on the Costa Rican community and each student.  

This meaningful trip was a unique experience for these Saint Anselm students. The two-part program allowed students to apply the concepts they were learning in the classroom firsthand. The group traveled to two Costa Rican communities, Dulce Nombre and Los Huevitos, where they were able to provide home visits as well as set-up and run health clinics. 

The Community and Public Health class had many influential lessons before the students headed into their clinical practices. In class students learned concepts of epidemiology, communicable disease, environmental health and disaster relief. 

Global health is a main focus throughout this course, as it examines the socio-cultural influences on health like immigration, health care access and cost. The course also taught the students about providing care to socioeconomically challenged groups and how to develop cultural competence, awareness and knowledge.

Julia Smith ’25 who provided care throughout this trip stated, “some patients couldn’t afford some medications or treatments, so we tried looking into natural or alternative therapies to help them.” At the clinicals students were able to take a patient’s medical history and compete a full head-to-toe assessment. 

Nurses in Costa Rica
Saint Anselm Nursing students in action during their clinical work in Costa Rica. 

This trip gave the students a glimpse into a new heath care system that is different from the health care system in the United Sates. Now, they were able to learn the different ways that other countries provide care or do not have access to care. 

Samuel Luther ’25 stated, “It was also humbling to see how grateful every patient was to receive care from us. In Costa Rica, they had such a high respect for healthcare workers and treated all of us very kindly. One patient living in an area with a lot of poverty even returned later in the day after we saw her in our clinic with fresh strawberries as a gift for us.” 

Through their education at the Jean School of Nursing and Health Services, students were able to draw from other courses and apply it to their work in Costa Rica. Course like Medical Surgery, Health Assessment and Care of the Elderly helped guide students to care properly during their trip. Patient’s ages ranged from infants to elder adults, making each interaction unique. One nurse mentioned that they learned how to perform pediatric assessments due to the number of children that visited the clinics. 

“This trip has made me more excited to enter the nursing field. I felt empowered and excited to be able to care for patients every day and having that unique clinical experience in Costa Rica was one highlight of my Saint Anselm Nursing experience,” said Maria Dagher ’25. 

Students returned to the Hilltop with sharpened nursing skills, new perspectives and an elevated worldview that will empower them as they decide what nursing career path they choose to explore.  

"This trip ignited my passion for nursing even more,” shared Riley Shea ’25. “I can see myself doing programs like this one as an RN where I have the opportunity to grow as a nurse in another country!”