Nursing students broaden their horizons on US trip

Photos of Pittsburgh students

Staff and students from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work travelled to the University of Pittsburgh in September to experience nursing education in the US.

The trip included plenty of opportunities for academic, clinical and cultural exchanges.

Alongside meetings and presentations from the Pittsburgh staff, the group had the chance to use the simulation facilities at Pittsburgh’s Winter Institute for Simulation, Education and Research. Rooms were set up as operating theatres and patient bed spaces, with state-of-the-art mannequins and supporting software allowing the students to practise key skills in a safe and controlled environment.

The students also took part in clinical observations at local hospitals, shadowing qualified nurses and talking to American student nurses about their experiences on placement. Deborah Cooper, a BSc (Hons) Nursing student who went on the trip explains, “There were some differences between our clinical placements here in the UK and the ward environment in the US, but we have all taken valuable lessons from these observations that will influence us in our final year and in our future careers.”

The exchange programme between the two universities has been taking place since 2009. The idea is to give students from both countries the chance to learn some of the strengths and challenges faced by the healthcare system in another country, helping them to reflect more deeply on their own culture's system. Students from Pittsburgh are due to visit Birmingham next in spring 2016

Helen Holder, Programme Director of BSc (Hons) Nursing believes that the trip is a valuable experience for the students involved. "In addition to experiencing the differences in healthcare culture and practice between the UK and a US state, the students greatly increase in confidence, particularly through giving a presentation to staff and students at the University of Pittsburgh."

Perhaps most importantly, the exchange expanded the students' horizons, opening up the possibility of postgraduate study and even working abroad. Exercises such as a poverty simulation, where the students were divided into small groups and had to survive a month together as a low income family were an, "eye-opening experience". Deborah explains: “It encouraged many of us to research what resources are available in Birmingham for those struggling in the current economic climate.”

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