The most recent Global Public Health (GPH) program for West Coast University journeyed to Buenos Aires, Argentina during Fall 2016. The group of 12 WCU bachelor of nursing students (BSN), two nurse ambassadors and two WCU faculty started their journey with a city tour in Buenos Aires to familiarize themselves with the history and culture and begin to learn of the importance of community before beginning their clinical activities.
Date: Sept 17 – Oct 1 , 2016
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Liliana Bovaird; WCU-Ontario campus
Trisha Stockton; Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Amy Rentch; Children’s Hospital of Orange County
The first clinical location for the group was located at Geriatrico San Lucas, an assisted-living facility for the elderly. As WCU students entered the facility and began interacting with the residents the language and cultural barriers immediately disappeared as the residents remembered that the students were connected with past WCU students who had visited them during the previous two GPH programs. The students presented educational health discussions on several topics in which the residents actively engaged.
Students also donated personal towels and other hygiene items for the residents of the Geriatrico San Lucas.
For another activity, students travelled by metro to El Teraciario de Fátima, an institution that provides education to low-resourced, adult students, through a private Catholic foundation. Students noted that a highlight of their trip was when they had the opportunity to work alongside the nursing students of El Terciario de Fátima in one of the most impoverished communities in Buenos Aires. Students had the chance to conduct community health fairs, health screenings and health education.
“The most impactful experience I had was with the nursing students of Fatima,” GPH scholar Justine Kowertz said. “Although we may be of different ethnicities and speak a different language, we share the same passion for nursing and helping people.” Kowertz added, “One thing I truly admire about them was their sense of love and generosity. Although they do not have much to give, they are so generous with what they have.”
Another highlight of the trip was when the group travelled to two local hospitals, the first was a world renowned teaching hospital for the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Buenos Aires, Hospital De Clinicas - “José de San Martín.” WCU students took a tour of the hospital and received a presentation by third year nursing interns about diabetes management. During the Buenos Aires hospital tour, students also visited UDAONDO Hospital, a public hospital that focuses on patients with gastrointestinal disease. The group received a presentation from the hospital’s head nurse about the efforts to educate the community on the management of gastrointestinal disease, then toured the new oncology wing of the hospital designed to serve hospice patients through alternative therapy.
“This particular experience showed me that what I am learning in public health is not only important to this course, or specific to public health nurses, but it is something that is fundamental and essential to the nursing practice as a whole,” GPH scholar Britney Pitts said.
Emin Mirzakhani, another GPH scholar, shared the same sentiment. “This experience has helped me continue in advancing my career, and acting as a professional nurse. Not only will this help my patient to patient interaction, but my relationship with my friends, family, and coworkers as well.”