Nursing school to develop global partnerships

The School of Nursing will extend its global reach when an administrator helps a university in Singapore implement its own advanced nursing program.

The project, taken on by the school’s director of community and global health initiatives Joyce Pulcini, will initially only involve nursing students at the National University of Singapore, but administrators believe her consultative work could lead to foreign exchange programs in Southeast Asia for nursing students.

Developing international partnerships has become a focus for the Virginia-based nursing school, which formed in 2010, because students demand a more global understanding of health care issues, Pulcini said.

“These experiences will help broaden students’ perspectives and make them understand in a concrete way what poverty is and the role public health plays abroad, since chances are that these nurses will end up treating immigrants or patients that have been exposed to different diseases in another country,” she said.

Pulcini said she will return to Singapore in the fall to consult on the national university’s upcoming pediatrics program after delivering an initial consultation there in March.

The consulting work by Pulicini, who specializes in pediatrics, will help the Singaporean university set up a pediatric advanced practice nursing program – and start a dialogue for the school to work on exchange programs for students and faculty.

She stressed that while the school is working on long-term arrangements internationally, no plans are finalized.

GW’s nursing work in Singapore could allow for a smoother transition to other countries in the region and around the world.

Pulcini, who came to GW in January, said Thailand could be the next site of a global partnership where students and faculty would travel to hone their nursing skills in populations facing varying health issues. Ecuador and Central American countries are also possible destinations for nursing students at GW.

“Even if [GW] nursing students don’t end up working in another country, they will still have to deal with a multicultural group of patients here at home,” Pulcini said. “Experiences like these change the course of their careers. They look at what they want to do in terms of public health and it really changes their lives.”

Jean Johnson, the nursing school’s dean, said students’ inaugural trip to Haiti in February – with another trip slated for July – has also helped the two-year-old school get off the ground with its international offerings.

Three nursing students joined assistant nursing professor Carol Lang on the first trip to Haiti, part of a collaboration with Florida-based nonprofit Project Medishare, which assists more than 800 patients through health education programs and medical treatment.

“One of the strategic partnerships [with Project Medishare] is in Haiti and we are looking to develop them in other countries,” Johnson said. “This is a goal because we all recognize the benefits of our students providing service to other countries while learning how the social, economic and political environment of a country affects health and how health care is delivered.”

The school’s population of more than 500 nursing students – mostly based on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus – have expressed desire for more readily available academic and professional opportunities, said Andrew Goretsky, director of graduate, distance, and professional student experience at the Center for Student Engagement.

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