Study Trip to the PITT School of Nursing

The University of Pittsburgh (PITT) is a world-class university and the School of Nursing is in the top-ten graduate Schools in the USA.  As a result of The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Birmingham City University (BCU) links have been forged with PITT, which resulted in the sharing of ideas about the development of simulation in nurse education. Subsequently, PITT and BCU developed a programme of student exchanges with the aim of developing knowledge and understanding of nursing and the role of the nurse from an international perspective.   pitt group  

The opportunity was opened to Level 5 students across the School and a group of 12 successful candidates were selected through a competitive application process to participate in the annual visit, including -  Abigail Victoria Gillies-Loach, Amy Christopher, Catherine Drew, Catherine O’Reilly, Chloe Hands, Hannah Oakley, Honor Fogarty, Jade West , Kirandeep Bahia, Sanam Mahmood from the Adult Nursing Department, Chloe Sammons from Mental Health Nursing, and Kirsty Watkinson from Child Nursing.

The students were accompanied by two academic members of staff, Kim Moore and Lee Potiphar, who supported the group throughout the two week visit.

Motivation to go abroad

“I was aware of the connection with the University of Pittsburgh and was interested in finding out more about the health care system in America. I also knew students who had participated on this trip the year previously and had given me great feedback about their experience.” Catherine Drew

“During my first year of nursing this opportunity was presented to the cohort and since then I have been interested in taking part. I have always been interested in American healthcare and how it differs to England and this opportunity would give me the chance to see it first-hand. Pittsburgh University is a major research university and since a lot of nursing is about evidence based practice this only fuelled my interest.” Jade West

What the students enjoyed the most

“There were so many incredible parts of this trip. I really enjoyed the simulation activities where we are able to practice inserting central lines using ultrasound, bronchoscopy using a fibre optic camera, intubation and airway management and simulation of an acutely ill patient. We also had lots of time off in between attending the university to explore the city where I particularly enjoyed kayaking along the rivers and going up the incline to see the whole city by day and night, as well as making new friends.” Hannah Oakley

“During my visit I was fortunate enough to carry out an observational experience in the UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh in two different areas; Accident and Emergency (ER) and the Trauma ITU. This experience gave me real insight into the running of the hospital as well as the nursing role and patient care. During my time at the university I was given the chance to engage in learning experiences such as simulations, lectures and talks with different faculty members. I have definitely made some friends for life.” Jade West

Differences between the USA and the UK

“Students complete 4 years training in Pittsburgh and cover midwifery, paediatric and other areas of nursing so when they qualify they can choose any area of nursing to work within. However, when they qualify they have to complete an end of year exam before they are allowed to apply for a licence to practice, unlike our students who are automatically qualified to practice with our PIN under the NMC. The infection control and other policies in Pittsburgh were not like ours in the UK, which I found very interesting.” Catherine Drew

Achievements and development of new skills

“I gained a lot of knowledge about international practice and learnt a lot of knew skills such as intubation, inserting an A line, using a Doppler, etc. We also used a child birth simulation which was fantastic! Amy Christopher

 “I developed incredibly professionally and personally. I felt my confidence grow, I knew I would learn a lot and be able to take these experiences forward in my life. I will be going back at some point.” Catherine O’Reilly

“I have definitely increased my confidence throughout this experience and on return to the UK it has spurred me on to travel and explore nursing in other countries once qualified.” Hannah Oakley

“I have gained confidence in my presentation skills, as we had the chance to present to the students at Pittsburgh, furthermore I was able to work on my team working skills, as working and living closely to other people that I have not met before was and interesting experience.” Sanam Mahmood

“I was able to develop new skills at the WISER building where we practised things such as intubation. But I also built on existing skills. The trip confirmed to me that communication is a strength of mine. Being able to compare and contrast the differences and take away strengths from both the States and the UK will enhance my knowledge as a nurse.” Honor Fogarty

Advice to students considering overseas mobility

 “It has been one of the best experiences of my life and definitely part of my nursing training. I have been able to meet other students from the course which I wouldn’t have if I didn’t go to Pittsburgh. It is incredible to actually see the cultural differences in training and practice.  I would advise any student thinking of going to remember that it is an educational trip and there to gain as much as you can from the 2 week experience in a completely different culture. Catherine Drew

 “Definitely go for it! It is a fantastic opportunity and we all had so much fun. It will enhance your career prospects and opportunities and also open doors for an international career. I'm so pleased I applied for this trip, the experience is invaluable.” Amy Christopher

“Definitely apply. I have made so many friends thanks to this opportunity both from BCU and from Pittsburgh. Secondly, it is extremely eye opening to see how they practise and teach in the states. Finally, if you apply, make sure you go with an open mind. It’s very easy to observe and think this isn’t how it should be done but remember it’s a cultural difference. This opportunity will aid your reflection ability.” Honor Fogarty

PIttsburgh Collage