by Cindy Lee, Hana Chung, Suvin Song, Kelly Powers
This past June, fifteen Boston College students, seven of whom are KILN scholars, traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland to participate in a global health class titled, “International Perspective on Nursing Care: One Aim, Multiple Approaches.” We met students and professors from Switzerland, Chile, India, China, and Singapore. They shared their knowledge of health care systems and cultural practices from their respective countries through lectures and group discussions. In addition, we received four practical training days in a Swiss hospital or clinic. Even though some of us faced a language barrier, we were able to witness the interactions between the nurses and patients, which included the same patient-centered care used in the United States. We recognized the differences in the Swiss healthcare system by shadowing student nurses and observing other healthcare providers on the cardiac, traumatology, geriatric, psychiatric, pediatric, orthopedic, and internal medicine floors.
In addition, we had the chance to hear Sister Callista Roy speak about The Roy Adaptation Model, and the following day, we attended a symposium that displayed various nursing topics from professors around the world. On the last day, we presented our assigned topics, which included nursing and immigration, nursing ethics, health promotion and prevention, palliative care, complementary and alternative medicine, and end of life in the pediatric context. This gave us a chance to reflect on the cultural differences among the various countries. As a result, our experience helped us to apply our newly acquired knowledge to our nursing practice in the United States.
Aside from our involvement in the classroom, we had the opportunity to explore Switzerland. The group trips included a tour of the Callier Chocolate Factory and the neighboring town of Gruyere. We also enjoyed a traditional Swiss meal after hiking Le Grammont of the Swiss Alps. Other excursions included a day in Geneva to visit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, and the United Nations Office. During the free weekends, several students traveled to Interlaken, Bern, Zurich, Evian, and even Paris. Through these trips, we were able to make the most of our experience in Switzerland.
The Switzerland trip contributed to our personal, professional, and leadership development. As leaders in the KILN community, we strive to be independent, knowledgeable, accepting, and courageous. By overcoming language barriers, budgeting our finances, and adapting to a new environment, we continued to develop these characteristics. The different cultural perspectives helped broaden our attitudes, values, and beliefs. The cultural competency we gained from this trip can be applied in nursing care and in our everyday lives. This experience abroad exceeded our expectations and promoted growth in our educational and personal development. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we highly recommend this course to all nursing students looking for a challenging, rewarding, and memorable summer.