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Why travel abroad?

Reasons for students to travel abroad are varied. Many students have not traveled outside the United States or even outside of eastern North Carolina. As Hettie Peele, an African-American second degree student notes, "I never dreamed this trip would ever be possible. It has changed my life forever." Other students have never experienced the various forms of transportation: flying, riding the trains, and taking a cruise. While some students may have limited travel with their parents, the opportunity to take a course and earn credit at the same time makes it a desirable elective.

According to Dr. Kirkpatrick, benefits in traveling abroad give you a new frame of reference for understanding the world and your role in it, and provide cultural exposure, as well as leadership, job opportunities, and your own self-edification. Furthermore, more and more of tomorrow's leaders are studying abroad which helps them obtain the jobs easier from the experience they gain.

Other students besides the Americans traveling abroad benefit from this course. East Carolina University College of Nursing has been host for five German students over the last two years. Last summer, Ralf Huennies, from Ulm, Germany participated at Pitt Community College with Brenda Poole, at Pitt County Memorial Hospital with several staff and faculty, and at the College of Nursing with students and faculty in order to compare and contrast the two health care delivery systems. In addition, Mr. Huennies visited with Sandra Bennett, a nurse practitioner, at the Craven County Health Department. East Carolina University College of Nursing served as hostess to a delegation of 18 Danish nurse educators in the Spring of 2002. Two Swedish students from Mid-Sweden University visited in the Fall of 2002.

Another reason for traveling abroad and learning about other health care systems is to dispel myths and misconceptions. For example, the managed care model is borrowed from the German system, while the mobile coronary care unit is from the Russian system. Americans borrow extensively from other countries, and internationals copy and borrow from the American system.

Cultural and global issues impact everyone.  An overview of these issues is available in PowerPoint format for you to view here in the presentation "Globalization and Health Care".


Student Responses

A trip to Amsterdam, Germany and Austria in May, 2002 brought this response:

  • Kathy Jackson - "N5620 International Health Care was a rewarding professional experience. Comparing European health care and nursing education to that of the United States provided new techniques and approaches that could be used in the classroom."
  • Tracye Stevens - "This course broadened my global perspective to expand my horizons. The respect and tolerance for others is something I can use in my practice."

The reactions to the trips abroad have been overwhelmingly positive. An annual trip to Ostersund, Sweden, March 2000, brought the following responses:

  • Denise Brigham - "One learns best and more about themselves when we learn about others. Traveling to Sweden not only brought me the opportunity to collect wonderful memories, but to crystallize some of my own beliefs about nursing."
  • Cheryl Duke - "The opportunity for exposure to new and exciting cultures is alive and well at ECU College of Nursing! Our group got 'first hand' experience to the health care system in Sweden. This trip is an invaluable opportunity to see other parts of the world and allows you the chance to grow personally and professionally. I have special memories and stories that I will treasure forever."
  • Gina Woody - "A great way to learn! I would recommend the experience for everyone."
  • Virginia Bonar - " A challenging and exciting learning experience."

From another annual trip to Germany during the last two weeks of May, 2000, the student responses were:

  • Maggie Agsten - "Life is too short not to travel to the other side of the rainbow. The experience I had with the study abroad program was incredible, enriching, and irreplaceable."
  • Susan Abernethy -"It gave me the confidence to travel on my own now."
  • Audra Kennedy - "A course like this offers the experience, while learning. It opened my eyes to how things are different, yet accomplish the same results."

The diversity of the group members as well as the group as a whole are factors that contribute most to the success of the trip. For example, Dr. Kirkpatrick states, "The cultural sensitivity to each other and to the people in their hostess country, as well as teamwork are the major factors for a successful trip."