Unique Spring Break offers grad nursing students a global view of healthcare

Thursday, Mar 28, 2024 • SAM GALINDO : CONTACT

Nursing students in Italy standing in front of the Colosseum

For a group of University of Texas at Arlington graduate nursing students, Spring Break 2024 was a week to remember - as flip flops and sunscreen were traded for passports and notebooks. 

Twenty-one graduate nursing students from the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) Masters and Doctoral programs spent their spring break traveling through Italy learning about healthcare and professional nursing from an international perspective. The group made stops at historic locations, including Rome, Florence, and Pisa.

Led by multiple CONHI faculty members, including Chair of Graduate Nursing Programs Dr. Ann Eckhardt and Clinical Assistant Professors Dr. Keri Draganic and Dr. Tamara Eades, the students embarked on a journey of perspective.

“[This] unique short-term travel abroad opportunity allowed students to immerse themselves into Italian culture while learning about their National Health System (Servizio Santario Nazionale) [and] investigating ancient Roman medical and health practices, religious aspects of medicine…human anatomy, and the history of medicine,” Draganic said. 

Lindsey McDavid, a UTA Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Education student and second-time participant of a UTA travel abroad experience, echoed the importance of attaining a global perspective of health education.

“Experiencing these cultures firsthand and learning about each country's healthcare system from local healthcare professionals has been invaluable for my current and future nursing practice,” McDavid added. “I have developed cultural competence in a way that I cannot learn from a book or lecture.”

Students’ new-found global perspective will ultimately improve patient outcomes here at home. 

“Through immersion activities and opportunities to meet with healthcare professionals in other countries, students gain valuable insight into healthcare delivery and cultural differences,” Eckhardt said. “Texas is a majority minority state, and the United States will be a majority minority nation within the next 20 years. This demographic shift highlights the importance of cultural understanding.”

The international trip was the fourth short-term travel abroad experience organized for CONHI graduate nursing students. Previous destinations included London, Switzerland, and France.

For more information on UTA’s Graduate Nursing programs, visit the CONHI website.