Clinical Nurse Leader Students Experience Health Care in South Africa

JANUARY 25, 2017 – During winter break, Elizabeth Sloss (NHS’09, MBA’17), MSN, RN, an instructor of professional nursing practice, led a study abroad experience in South Africa for students within the Clinical Nurse Leader Program.

Meghan Cotter (G’17) and Roula Saleem (G’17), who will be earning their master’s degrees in May through the program, participated in the trip, which allowed them to collaborate with nurses and other health professionals in the city of Durban.

“The students spent a day in a primary health care clinic serving the Umlazi township and accompanied nurses from Chatsworth Hospice on home visits,” Sloss said. “Clinical rotations at St. Mary’s Hospital included the in-patient casualty [emergency] department, surgical areas, and pediatrics wards.”

Experiential Learning

Sloss added that students worked alongside “clinical staff to administer medications and provide education and discharge planning information to patients.”

“On the last day of the program, the students assisted counselors, nurses, and pharmacists during patient visits at the Blue Roof Wellness Centre, a clinic that provides counseling, medication management, and other services for children and adults living with HIV/AIDS,” she said.

Health Determinants

Salem said the experience was a “humbling” one, accentuating “the common goal of promoting health and social well-being.”

“We were able to explore the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health and visualize the effects on health outcomes,” she said. “I developed a greater appreciation for the foundation skills we’ve learned so far and understand the importance of obtaining a detailed history, as well as strong physical examination skills, as these are essential in a resource limited setting.” 

Cotter, whose bachelor’s degree in international affairs included a global public health concentration, called the experience “incredible” – one that “helped broaden [her] understanding of health care on a global level.”

“I enjoyed being able to shadow and chat with the nurses in the clinics we visited and learning about how to provide quality patient-care when resources are not as readily available,” she said. “I loved having the opportunity to mix what I learned in undergrad with all that I have learned [at Georgetown]. The trip exposed me to the endless opportunities that exist for nurses in the field of global public health and encouraged me to pursue a career that mixes my passion for international affairs with my passion for nursing.” 

The trip took place in partnership with Child Family Health International.

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