Global Public Health Cohort Returns From Argentina With Added Work Experience from New Life Experiences

While in Argentina, West Coast University global public health scholars worked alongside local nursing students in one of Buenos Aires’ most impoverished communities, conducting community health fairs, health screenings and health education.

The health education touched on numerous topics specific to the community-needs assessment. As part of a longitudinal research project conducted by the nursing students from El Terciario de Fátima, WCU students went house to house and took health-needs assessments for individuals, families and the community.

Buenos Aires — 2015

Trip Dates: Sept. 19–Oct. 4, 2015
Faculty Coordinators: Liliana Bovaird, WCU-Ontario
Nursing Ambassadors: Jennifer Medeiros and Whitney Taylor; Children’s Hospital of Orange County

WCU Student Participants:

DALLAS: Lindsey Figueroa; Brittany Stansbury; Beth Weber (Hunt)

LOS ANGELES: Yadira Alvarado; Adriana Betancourt; Melissa Hernandez

ORANGE COUNTY: Helina Shirvani; Ashley Ike; Mariela Portillo

ONTARIO: Emanuela Salajean; Kelli Samples; Heain Aung

“A professor from the Terciario advised my fellow students and me to never forget to look our patients in their eyes,” WCU-Orange County BSN student Ashley Ike said. “I believe that when you truly look someone in their eyes, you will never see a victim. You will see potential.”

El Terciario de Fátima provides education to low-resource, adult students, through a private, Catholic foundation. It is accredited by the Argentinian government and WCU works with Terciario students in their Public Health rotation.

“It was especially great getting to know the nursing students at the Terciario,” WCU-Los Angeles BSN student Adriana Betancourt said. “We have similar struggles and challenges. We have had to make sacrifices affecting our social and family life and we all have one goal: to become the best nurse we can be.”

As part of another community service event, WCU public health students spent part of a cold, wet Friday evening working side-by-side with a local soup kitchen feeding the hungry.

“This experience has impacted me in so many ways that have led me to work harder as an individual to use all the talent and gifts I have to make more of an impact in the world,” WCU-Orange County nursing student Mariela Portillo said. “I have always pushed myself to achieve excellence, but now I feel that it has more of a deeper meaning now and to provide as much as I can for every patient or any person that I come across in my life.”

At the Geriatrico San Lucas assisted-living facility for the elderly, the 2015 WCU cohort got to deliver a gift of 72 sets of personal towels to the residents from WCU’s previous global public health nursing cohort.

This was a beautiful experience to witness, as several residents actually kissed their towels in thanks,” WCU International Education Faculty Manager Bethany Thrasher said. “The language barrier disappeared at that moment and gratitude was demonstrated.”

While at the facility, WCU students presented health education in a format that was enjoyed by all residents. Many joined in during the demonstration portion of the workshop and WCU students shared appropriate exercise options for residents who couldn’t stand unassisted.

“It was delightful to see the group working through the steps,” Thrasher said.

WCU-Ontario nursing student Heain Aung said he came back from the trip much more confident in his abilities, more cultured and with a better understanding of healthcare and people in general.

“There’s nothing in textbooks and manuals that can teach you how to interact with other people and show compassion to them,” Aung said. “Not only did I learn about another culture, but I also learned more about myself.”

For more information on the upcoming programs, visit WCU’s International Education page.

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