US exchange programme develops next generation of nurses

A transatlantic exchange programme has seen nursing students from Aberdeen and Houston compare their countries’ healthcare systems and university training.

(L to R): Amelia Holt, Kimberley Tosh, Jackie Leith, Chloe Sangster and Celeste RossTwo students from Houston Baptist University have spent the past two weeks in the North East, working alongside nursing colleagues from Robert Gordon University (RGU) and NHS Grampian.

The exchange programme is part of the ‘Sister City’ relationship between the two cities and is one of the key projects supported and financed by the Grampian Houston Association (GHA) and Houston Grampian Association (HGA).

The project has worked to compare and contrast each countries’ respective healthcare system, university nursing education, hospitals and cultures.

Originally launched in 1994, the renowned knowledge sharing exchange project is now in its 23rd year.

During their stay, American students Amelia Holt and Celeste Ross have undertaken a programme of academic, nursing, social and civic activities.

They also enjoyed a combination of clinical placements at NHS Grampian and community nursing visits, in addition to health professions classes and seminars.

Amelia said: “We’ve really enjoyed our time in Aberdeen and have been doing a lot of interesting work in the hospital, where we’ve been kept busy.

“A nurses day-to-day job here isn’t too different from what we have back home, but it’s been really interesting looking at the bigger picture and comparing how different the NHS is with our private care system.”

Celeste added: “I really like the fact that there are community nurses who will go out and visit patients, which is something we don’t have in Houston where people who can’t make it into the hospital will just continue to get worse.

“I think my favourite learning experience has been in Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and noticing the big focus on care and breastfeeding.”

The students have also explored Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire during their visit, including spending time at Dunnottar and Crathes Castles, visiting His Majesty’s Theatre and petting Highland cows.

Amelia said: “I’ve never seen anything like Dunnottar Castle before. It was breathtakingly beautiful and we don’t have anything similar in Texas – apart from the Alamo, but that doesn’t come close.”

Speaking on her highlight, Celeste said: “It has to be getting fish and chips, Irn-Bru and then ice cream from Aunty Betty’s!”

Second year RGU nursing students Chloe Sangster and Kimberley Tosh have worked closely with Amelia and Celeste over the past two weeks.

They will travel to Houston in September for their exchange visit, where they will be given the chance to learn more about nursing in the US.

Kimberley said: “We’re looking forward to making the return trip to Houston later this year and it will be great to get a better idea of nursing worldwide.

“The four of us have spoken about all of the different places we’ll get to go to and it will be a really interesting experience comparing the US with Scotland.”

Chloe said: “Seeing how the girls have reacted to the differences between their healthcare system and ours has given me a new perspective and it should be good to see that for ourselves.

“We also really want to go to the rodeo!”

Jackie Leith, lecturer and US Exchange coordinator at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “It is always a pleasure to be part of this once in a lifetime experience for the students and it’s great to see that they all gain so much from it.

“We’re very grateful to the Grampian Houston Association and the Houston Grampian Association for providing this wonderful opportunity and our thanks go out to the incredible support of our clinical colleagues, who consistently go above and beyond and without whom these exchanges could not happen.”


Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer | Health and Sport
Press and Media Enquiries