US exchange programme strengthens nursing ties

A transatlantic exchange programme has seen nursing students from Aberdeen and Houston compare notes on their university training.

L to R - Ciera Newbell, Megan Oralie Aracena, Victoria Simms and Ruth Gilligan have been learning how nursing compares between Scotland and the United States.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 Ciera Newbell and Victoria Simms spent two weeks in Aberdeen during May and June.

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 22nd year.

During their stay Victoria and Ciera undertook a programme of academic, nursing, social and civic activities. They also enjoyed a combination of clinical placements at NHS Grampian locations and community group visits as well as health care classes and seminars.

Victoria said: “We’ve really enjoyed our time in Aberdeen and had the opportunity to visit a number of different hospitals in the city, including Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Royal Cornhill Hospital and The Children’s Hospital.

“The opportunity to see how Accident and Emergency works was great and is something we wouldn’t get the chance to see in the US until our final two semesters at university. The doctors aren’t too far away from patients here but in the US that isn’t always the case.

“It has also been really useful to see the different nursing specialties and decide what I’m interested in.”

Ciera added: “The nurses and doctors we’ve met have all gone above and beyond the call of duty to make us feel welcome and tell us about what they are doing as we’ve shadowed them.

“I really enjoyed seeing A&E and the maternity hospital, they were great experiences and we noticed that nurses have more of a say in patient care here compared to the US and can recommend action when necessary.”

The students also explored Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire during their visit, spent time at Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven and enjoyed Scottish country dancing at a ceilidh. They also spent time in Edinburgh and visited Edinburgh Castle.

Second year RGU nursing students Megan Oralie Aracena and Ruth Gilligan, who are both from Aberdeen, worked closely with Victoria and Ciera throughout their visit.

Megan and Ruth 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.

Megan said: “It’s been great spending time with the girls and showing them round Aberdeen. They’ve been very excited to see some Scottish culture and learn about the north-east.

“Ruth and I are looking forward to making the return trip to Houston later this year where we’ll get the chance to see the biggest medical centre in the world which will be a fantastic experience.”

Ruth added: “Seeing how Victoria and Ciera have reacted to Aberdeen has given me a new perspective on the city and how lucky we are to have great facilities on our doorstep.

“It’s been great to see their outlook on life and their passion for high standards of care and I’m excited to go to Houston and see how nursing there compares to how we work here in Scotland.”

Jackie Leith, lecturer and USA coordinator at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery worked with colleague Leanna Will to organise the US students’ visit to Aberdeen.

Ms Leith 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 get so much out of the experience.

“We’re very grateful to the Grampian Houston Association and the Houston Grampian Association for providing this wonderful opportunity and for the continued support from our clinical colleagues in Aberdeen and the US.”

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Ross AndersonCommunications Officer | Health and Sport