Nursing Students Go Abroad to Pittsburgh

Eight excited BCU nursing students arrived safely in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA). The students, accompanied by Midwifery Lecturer and Deputy Course Lead of the MSci Midwifery programme, Ruby Handley-Stone, brought a wealth of knowledge to share from the U.K, from the Child, Adult and Mental Health divisions of nursing.

After a welcome breakfast of pastries and bagels with the Deans and Associate Deans of the University, the first day ended with one of the standout events of the trip for many: a twilight cruise tour of Pittsburgh. In head to-toe fancy dress, the students embraced Halloween in the U.S on a ‘spooky’ riverboat, touring the three vibrant rivers that frame the city and enjoying the glittering skyline and magnificent architecture from the water.

Weather in Pittsburgh was unexpectedly warm, with many thick jumpers remaining unworn and lighter items of clothing recycled. The steep incline of the streets surrounding the University buildings in Pittsburgh helped to burn off the calories consumed through the delicious food: the famous ‘Pittsburgher’, tacos, and fried pickles. One of the best lunches we had was in the student canteen on the beautiful Greensburg campus – they certainly do ‘school lunches’ better!

Although we found time to do many extra-curricular activities outside of working hours, including the Andy Warhol Museum, the ‘Falling Water’ house, Banjo night and an independent film festival, the days were full of learning. We attended lectures around the US healthcare system, health disparities, medical-surgical nursing, and trauma, later absorbed by the advanced resources that medical and nursing students are provided with. Within the excellent skills and simulation labs, students practised amongst other US students and shared their own knowledge of clinical skills. The most monumental occasion was the opportunity to examine and dissect a Cadaver, an unforgettable experience we were all grateful for.

Whilst being welcomed warmly to tour around the clinical areas, students observed clinical activity in wards at several local hospitals and were able to compare care provisions between Obstetric wards and Midwife-led centres in the city. We even met with paramedic nurses, delighted to sit in and examine the ‘Medevac’ helicopter ambulances used across America, previously only used in military involved conflicts.

These experiences sparked many discussions and debates surrounding health insurance, racial inequalities, and differences between care provision in the U.K, with the students representing BCU glowingly in a talk they provided to the Pittsburgh Nursing Students. Additionally, Ruby provided a lecture on midwifery in the U.K, sharing observations made during the two weeks in America. We felt honoured to be able to talk at the University of Pittsburgh, and there were clearly many discussions still to be had.

The academic partnership between BCU and the University of Pittsburgh continues to bloom, with this trip demonstrating to students the importance of effective, global learning communities. We hope to continue this relationship, working together to enrich and transform lives through observation of varying practices, information sharing and having fun!

Ruby Handley-Stone
Specialist Lecturer, Health Education and Life Sciences

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