Nursing students to make trip to Ireland during summer

Tyrel Linkhorn

Six nursing majors will receive international experience while attending a three-week class in Ireland this summer.

A partnership has existed between Kent State and the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland since the late 1980s, Nursing Professor Ruth Ludwick said. The more direct partnership with the nursing programs at the respective universities began in 1999 when Ludwick organized the first summer intersession trip for five Kent State nursing majors.

Ludwick said prior to that, few nursing students wanted to take a semester away from Kent and study in Ireland due to concerns about graduating on time.

“I developed the short course so they’d get the exposure,” she said.

Every year since then, Ludwick has accompanied a small group of students to take part in the exchange program, which takes place during Summer Intersession I, beginning this year May 22.

The students will be attending class at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus.

The trip gives the students chance to get outside of what they are used to doing.

“It gives them the experience of seeing health care in a different country,” Ludwick said.

Junior Maria Rietschlin, who said she has never been to Europe, is looking forward to that aspect.

“I’m excited to see things from another point of view,” she said.

Often while there, “students learn more about their role here,” as they are not so immersed with their studies and are able to look at nursing in a different way, Ludwick said.

Junior Julie Schaffer said she is looking forward to “seeing how they have preventative medicine,” an area she said Ireland’s system differs from America’s.

Ireland also has socialized medicine, which differs from what most people in the United States receive. Ludwick said patients face different concerns in each system, with lack of insurance in the United States and waiting lists in Ireland.

“The students will get a chance to make some of these comparisons for themselves,” Ludwick said.

Rietschlin said the emphasis of nurses there is more toward teaching, rather than observing and recording, as is done here.

“The jobs that the nurses do there are going to be a lot different than here,” she said.

The students will complete 32 hours of class work and 40 hours of clinical work, where they observe working nurses in both medical care facilities and home settings, Ludwick said.

In addition to learning about the health care of another country, the students will have the chance to learn about the country itself. Each of the students will be staying in the home of an Irish family. Rietschlin said the people putting them up have been, for the most part, involved with Ludwick’s program since the beginning.

During the weekends, the students will be able to travel Europe as tourists.

Rietschlin said the group plans on spending one weekend together in London. Other possible weekend destinations include Scotland and Paris, as well as local spots in Northern Ireland.

Rietschlin, Schaffer, and fellow junior Lynne Trenkelbach are leaving next Thursday to allow for about 10 days of travel before the program begins.

The three others plan on staying a week after the program is complete to allow for more time to travel Europe.

All nursing students who have completed their junior clinical requirement are eligible to apply for the trip. Selections for the spots are made based upon GPA and an essay, among other things, Ludwick said.

Currently, the university does not offer any scholarships for short-term travel. Therefore, the students must pay their own way.

Contact news correspondent Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected].