In 2012, the Crouse Hospital College of Nursing embarked on a journey that took the college’s undergraduate nursing students and faculty to Central America to expand their understanding of international healthcare issues as they relate to nursing through a cross-cultural healthcare immersion experience.
On Friday, June 1, 10 students, accompanied by four faculty members, left Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport bound for Guatemala for a 10-day healthcare cultural immersion experience in various clinics around the country.
The college wanted to be able to present unique learning and growth opportunities to students beyond the traditional boundaries of classroom and clinical experiences in their own backyards. With the world population living longer and needing more care, the healthcare field is one of the best places to get a job, and will likely stay that way for many years to come. Nurses today, and even more so in the coming years, will need to provide care within cultural contexts with which they may be unfamiliar. Our new course offering provides the chance for our students and faculty to learn together while delivering valuable medical services to an underserved population in Central America.
The faculty and students met for four hours of class time and the students completed multiple online exercises in preparation for the trip. In Guatemala, participants partnered with local healthcare providers in a clinic setting to provide supervised community and primary healthcare with the local context and conditions.
Through the experience, students gained a better understanding of how environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues affect the health of the Guatemalan community; how cultural norms, values, and beliefs shape the healthcare practices in that country; and how to collaborate with nurse/healthcare team members to enhance the role of nursing in the delivery of healthcare services, particularly with providers and patients of another culture.
Faculty who participated in the first year of the Global Health Initiative were Peg Ryan, MS, RNC; Sally Manahan, MS, RN, ANP; Carrie Kangah, MS, RN; and Ashley Zimmerman, BS, RN.