My Student Experience Nursing Abroad
Connecting students and their field of study with real situations and real people, creates opportunities to gain practical experience. Immerse those students in a different country and culture, with different challenges and scenarios, and you create a life changing experience where knowledge and life skills can be exchanged. A group of students from Georgia College and State University recently joined such a nursing abroad program to Tanzania.
The program was developed to encourage engagement between the nursing students and health care professionals in Arusha as well as local community development projects. Through cultural activities the students interacted with local people, learning about each others history and customs.
We asked Krystle Kvalheim to tell us more about her learning journey as a student nurse abroad.
Why did you decide to join the Nursing Abroad program to Tanzania?
I decided to join the trip to Tanzania in the fall of 2016 through Georgia College and State University’s study abroad program. I had completed a medical mission in Honduras and wanted to venture to another country.
Was your expectation met, or was anything different than you imagined?
The whole trip was different than I had imagined. The people of Tanzania are the nicest, kindest people I have ever met. The country is beautiful and the people make the most of what they have. They also strive to help their own people, which I find admirable. The places we stayed were beautiful and the hosts were wonderful as well. It was like a magical vacation, which I did not expect.
How do you view the healthcare situation in Tanzania?
Although the population is abundant in Tanzania, I think the healthcare is going in the right direction. I appreciated the free healthcare from conception to five years of age. The people are compliant when it comes to their maternal check ups as well as HIV labs and medications. I saw lack of healthcare in regards to pediatric care. There is definitely a lack of that in Tanzania. However, it is impressive that 95% of the nurses are also midwives to help decrease maternal mortality.
Tell us about some of your practical learning experiences?
We visited Mt. Meru Hospital, Karen’s Ward, and a third maternity clinic in Arusha. All of which were wonderful experiences for me. We were able to help deliver babies, help in the HIV clinic, the medical wards, and the ICU. Sister Jane did a wonderful job of taking us to the different healthcare facilities and allowing us to interact with the nurses. At Pippi House we met women who were learning skills to help them be independent and make an income while providing an education for their children.
What was your most memorable experience?
Honestly, my most memorable experience was being able to sit in a classroom with 20 Massai women and learn about their culture and how it compares to the American culture. I think they enjoyed it just as much as we did. It was something I will never forget and I know that it was a once in a lifetime experience.
What did you learn from the local organizations and professionals?
I learned a lot from the local organizations and professionals about the importance of helping our community. This included the trip to Shanga where they taught people with disabilities a skill, which turned into beautiful pieces of art which we all loved. The nurses were brilliant and extremely knowledgeable regarding how to run the clinics and hospitals efficiently. Maternity Africa is an amazing organization that helps find women, repair their fistulas and help them become part of their tribe again.
How did this trip impact you?
This trip impacted me in so many ways. It opened my eyes to a whole new country I had never imagined I would be able to visit. It also made me more aware of other people and their circumstances. The nurses I met made me want to be a better person both personally and professionally.
Do you feel this trip impacted your current studies or future career, and how?
The trip impacted my current and future career by learning to be inventive with the things I have at hand rather than spending extra money on equipment not really needed. It taught me that less can be more and that compassion goes a long way. I will carry Tanzania and her people with me wherever I go.
Would you encourage other students to come to Tanzania?
Yes! I would encourage other students and/or healthcare professionals to come to Tanzania. I think it is essential to learn about other countries and cultures and the best way to do that is to actually be alive somewhere else. Tanzania has so much to offer from the healthcare clinics, to the safaris, and the other landscapes and sights. It is a great place to work and play.
Any advice for students traveling to Africa?
Be fearless, be open, be bold, and take it all in, because it is a trip of a lifetime.
Thank you Krystle!
If you are interested in broadening your horizons and developing a Healthcare program in South or East Africa, view our various Health Science Modules. If you are interested in spending your summer of 2018 in Tanzania, individual students can sign up for our Community Health Study Abroad program.