US exchange programme develops nurses of the future

Nursing students from Aberdeen and Houston have been working together as part of a transatlantic exchange programme to develop their skills.

Nursing students (L to R) Blake Martin, Rebecca Gardiner, Lorena Lozano and Jo–Anne Peters.Two students from Houston Baptist University paid a visit to Aberdeen recently to work alongside nursing colleagues from Robert Gordon University (RGU) and NHS Grampian.

American students Blake Martin (21) from College Station, Texas and Lorena Lozano (21) from Houston spent two weeks in Aberdeen from Sunday, May 17 until Sunday, May 31.

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 between the two universities, is now in its 21st year.

Throughout their stay, Blake and Lorena undertook a programme of academic, nursing, social and civic activities. They also enjoyed a combination of clinical placements and community group visits as well as health care classes and seminars.

Lorena said: “It was a competitive process getting the chance to come to Scotland and Blake and I were delighted when we found out that we had been selected for this fantastic opportunity to learn about nursing in Aberdeen.”

Blake added: “This is our first visit to Scotland and everyone here has been very welcoming and helpful. The staff and nurses want to teach and have gone the extra mile to give us the best experience possible.

“There are lots of comparisons to be made between the UK and US. We have seen many differences as well as similarities.

“Here in the UK, nursing students specify their path in health care a lot earlier than in the US.  In Houston the nurses are given a more general view and specialise later. Both systems work well though with similar care for patients.”

As well as visits to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Royal Cornhill Hospital the students also explored Aberdeen and its surrounding countryside. They visited Edinburgh and Stonehaven, saw Wicked at His Majesty’s Theatre and enjoyed the local food and drink.

Second year RGU nursing students Rebecca Gardiner (20) from Aberdeen and Joanne Peters (22) from Tipperary, Ireland worked closely with Lorena and Blake throughout their visit.

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

Rebecca said: “It’s been good working alongside Blake and Lorena and we have all learned from one and other. It’s been interesting to hear how things compare in nursing between Aberdeen and Houston.

“The US is known for having world-leading hospitals and health care services and I can’t wait to see it for myself.”

Joanne added: “Rebecca and I worked hard on our applications for the exchange programme and it’s great to know we’ll be heading to Houston. It’s going to be an eye-opener and will be a great experience for our professional development.”

Blake added: “We are already planning what to show the girls when they come over. They will see how the healthcare systems work and also be given the chance to experience some American social activities, such as a visit to NASA's Houston Space Centre and a trip to city's popular Galleria Mall. We’re going to have a great time.”

Jackie Leith, Lecturer and Acting USA coordinator at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “It’s great to hear that Lorena and Blake have enjoyed their exchange visit with us and have had the opportunity to experience a range of clinical, community, academic and social activities.

“There are differences in the training nurses receive in the UK and US but we also have a lot in common. It’s great that the students are able to have this fantastic opportunity to learn from one and other to better their skills and knowledge of the nursing profession.”

Release by
Catya MacduffCommunications Office Work Experience Pupil