Florence Health Institute teaches students to look at their fields from an international perspective

Eryn Gebacz

In its inaugural year, the Florence Health Institute educates students in health related fields while helping them add an international lens to their practices.

The program is co-sponsored by Kent State and the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). Any students majoring in health related disciplines are encouraged to apply.

The Florence Health Institute’s intent is to replicate the Florence Summer Institute, but specifically tailor the program and course offerings to health majors. These majors include nursing, public health, medicine and pharmacy students.

Amber Cruxton, assistant director for education abroad, discussed how the new program has been popular with students so far.

“So far, we have more than a dozen who have applied and many more who have expressed interest,” Cruxton said.

Cruxton shared some of the courses offered through this new program, like Comparisons of Health Care Delivery Between Italy and the U.S., The Impact of Social Determinants of Health on Communities and Persons and Plagues that Shaped the World. 

College of Nursing Assistant Professor Pam Stephenson and Interim Chair of Health Policy and Management Christopher Woolverton have been working on the development of this program.

Stephenson discussed how the program focuses on allowing various students in different health related majors the opportunity to learn together and from one another.

“We’re hoping students gain cultural experiences that are outside their familiar zone and this program brings different professional groups together so they can understand better how they work together,” Stephenson said.

Woolverton will be instructing the Plagues that Shaped the World course this summer. Students taking the course will look at what happened in the 1300s and 1500s when the Bubonic Plague wiped out two-thirds of Europe.

“We’ll look at how that impacted the number of people who died who would have contributed to history, literature, music and medicine and would that have led us into a better Renaissance period,” Woolverton said.

Cruxton shared how students will be traveling to Siena, Italy for part of the program. While in Siena, students will visit one of the oldest hospitals in Europe that is no longer functioning, where tuberculosis patients were taken care of.

From this trip, students will learn the concept of how the doctors treated tuberculosis before it was considered a treatable disease.

Students will also learn from a professor from the University of Siena through a lecture on “Influenza in Italy” and through different excursions in Siena by talking to locals.

“As a part of the program, students will travel to Siena, Italy ‒ a beautiful Tuscan hill town just outside of Florence,” Cruxton said. “It is also possible for students to travel independently while in Florence. Classes meet Monday through Thursday, so each weekend allows three days to visit a dream destination.”

Students in any health related field interested in applying have until March 15 to complete the application.

“This really is a unique opportunity for anyone that is thinking about a health related career,” Woolverton said.

Eryn Gebacz is the international students and issues reporter, contact her at [email protected].