Gaining Health Care Experience Abroad

Robin Shear,

Elective enables SONHS students to learn firsthand about transcultural nursing in a foreign country


This January, 20 seniors in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) spent two weeks abroad as guests of the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid, Spain. The students were enrolled in the 3-credit elective Global Health: Transcultural Nursing (NUR485), an immersive experience in an international setting that is followed by online activities and face-to-face meetings.

The intensive 14-day curriculum made it possible for students to observe nursing care in several units at the Hospital Universitario del Sureste and Hospital Universitario Quirónsalud Madrid, including wound care, endoscopy, emergency medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery, pulmonology, and endocrinology.

Mihaela Florea, a coordinator and wound care unit nurse at Hospital Universitario Quirónsalud Madrid, said the nurses in each of those hospital units were happy for the chance to welcome students from UM, share their clinical experience with the future nurses, and practice their English-language skills in the health care environment.

In addition to having supervised clinical interactions at both hospitals, SONHS students attended lectures about Spain’s health care system and took part in a human anatomy lab taught by Universidad Francisco de Vitoria faculty.

This was the first school-sponsored study abroad trip for undergraduates since the start of the pandemic. The ambitious educational itinerary gave participants the invaluable opportunity to develop their understanding of health care systems and care delivery models outside of the United States, said Johis Ortega, an associate dean and professor at SONHS who led the expedition.

“Students are very excited our school has reinitiated its study abroad programs,” explained Dr. Ortega. “Opportunities like this enrich their personal and professional lives immensely.”

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