Nursing majors can experience Ireland

Allison Bray

Nursing students who wish to go abroad but cannot participate in a typical study abroad semester have the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland for the three-week summer intercession.

The exchange program, established by College of Nursing professor Ruth Ludwick, allows students to attend a week of class, a week of clinicals and a final week of classes, she said. It counts as a three-hour upper division nursing course.

“I have always enjoyed traveling, and studying abroad was a perfect way to convince the parents to let me go overseas again,” said senior nursing major Julie Schaffer, who took the trip last May.

Senior nursing major Lynne Trenkelbach also participated in the program. Her father worked at Kent State and told her about the program, and she decided she wanted to go on the trip even before she attended the university, she said.

While in Northern Ireland, students stay with host families. Schaffer and Trenkelbach stayed with a couple named Rae and Yvonne. Trenkelbach said Yvonne used to be a nurse, so she understood what they were going through and they were able to ask her questions about nursing.

The students took a class called Comparative Health Care: Nursing in Northern Ireland, held at the University of Ulster. In the first week, students learn about the health care system and the country, while the last week focuses on roles and education in nursing, Ludwick said.

Students also had to read the paper, watch the news and talk to people in the community. They were required to keep an electronic portfolio that included their experiences, clinical work and personal observations on a topic of their choice.

Trenkelbach chose the topic of sexual health. Her portfolio included things such as public policies of the United States and Northern Ireland, sexually transmitted diseases that are prevalent in both countries, sexual health education and the nurse’s role in teaching sexual health. She also summed up her clinical experience and had to do a presentation on her findings. Some of the other topics students chose were violence, domestic abuse and child obesity, she said.

For the most part, students simply observed during clinicals, although Trenkelbach said she was able to help out with some things.

“I was in a hospital for two days and then I got to go out in the community with district nurses,” she said. One day she was with a rapid response team that went into people’s homes.

“We all go to do a wide variety of activities,” she said.

The hospital in Northern Ireland is named Robinson Memorial, after the hospital of the same name in Ravenna.

Both students said taking part in the trip will help them become better nurses.

“Anytime you can get your hands on diversity, it’s always a plus,” Schaffer said.

“I think we live in a global society and understanding what’s going on in the world will make us better citizens,” Ludwick said. “What happens in one part of the world affects us. (It is) essential nursing has a better understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

Trenkelbach said that while she learned a lot about the differences between health care in the United States and Northern Ireland, nursing in the two countries is not as different as it may appear to be.

“In the end, the nursing care was the same,” she said. “It’s nurses caring for people. That’s the bottom line.”

Contact health and medical reporter Allison Bray at [email protected].