US nursing exchange broadens students’ horizons

Nursing students from RGU and University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) have taken part in an international exchange programme this summer to learn more about their profession across the Atlantic Ocean.

(L to R) Megan Walls, Ashley Epperly, Madeline Lopez, Rhea Halley, Jessica James-Schulz, Chelsea Smith, Jackie Leith (RGU lecturer), Carrie Bailey (UTK lecturer), Laura Foubister, Leanna Will (RGU lecturer), Ashley SnaddonThe transatlantic initiative between RGU and UTK is in its fourth year and has been forged to allow students to benefit from exchanging clinical, academic and cultural experiences.

American students Ashley Epperly (21), Madeline Lopez (21), Jessica James-Schulz (21) and Chelsea Smith (21) made their visit to Aberdeen at the end of July.

During their time in the north-east, they enjoyed a programme of nursing, academic and social activities, led by students and staff at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Ashley Epperly, who explained that she chose to skip lunch in excitement while observing surgery at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, went on to say: “It’s interesting that you get to specialise at the beginning of nursing school here, while back home we all study the same general course that gives us a bit of mental health, paediatrics and everything, before choosing where to go after school.”

Chelsea Smith said: “The students here also get a lot more clinical exposure than we do, but we get more classroom exposure, so there’s a good give-and-take on that. Though you do get paid a bursary to study and I think a lot of us come out with a lot of student loans to pay back.”

Madeline Lopez added: “We’ve also been talking about how good the handwashing guidance and hygiene technique is in Scotland and that it’s a lot more thorough than in our hospitals. We want to take it back with us for when we go into practice.”

The US students visited a number of local sights, guided by their RGU counterparts, culminating in a trip away to Edinburgh to visit the castle and the Dungeons.

Jessica James-Schulz added: “We went to Stonehaven, which was really good. We didn’t get to go inside the castle, but we took pictures like we did!”

Ashley Epperly added: “We’ve really felt like locals, sitting having tea with the RGU girls and visiting dessert shops in Old Aberdeen.”

RGU nursing students Ashley Snaddon (24), Megan Walls (23), Laura Foubister (21) and Rhea Halley (19), spent two weeks in Knoxville earlier in July, where they shadowed medical and nursing professionals in hospitals and clinics in the area.

Megan Walls said: “The big thing I noticed was comparing our free healthcare to the way things work with insurance in the US, which is obviously a big difference. While there is a lot of great technology there, which is a step up from us.”

During their stay, the students were also able to enjoy the local culture in Knoxville, as well as join in the Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations.

Ashley Snaddon, who was featured on local Tennessee news station WRCB while on the exchange, said: “We went to Dollywood, which was a lot of fun, learned to line dance and tried a corn dog, but a real highlight was probably Megan and Rhea always falling off of their tubes when we went fly fishing!”

All of the students self-funded their trips and the exchanges were fully facilitated by lecturers at both universities. It is the latest link between the north-east and UTK, which also has exchange partnerships with RGU’s School of Creative and Cultural Business and School of Applied Social Studies.

Jackie Leith, lecturer and US exchange coordinator at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “It has been very positive to see this exchange programme develop and grow over the last four years, and see it benefit our students as well as those from the University of Tennessee.

“The students involved get to experience a variety of clinical and community settings tailored to their particular nursing interests and it has been encouraging to hear their insights about the differences between Scotland and the US.

“It has been particularly great to see our students and clinical staff making such an effort to welcome and host our guests from the US over their two weeks. They have had an enjoyable time here in Scotland and we hope they will remember their time with us as their careers develop.”


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