A Nursing Partnership Across the Globe
MEDRIX is currently partnered with Hue College of Medicine to provide an international study program for nursing students. MEDRIX previously partnered with Seattle Pacific University’s School of Nursing for 8 years, and Northwest University Buntain School of Nursing for 2 years. During MEDRIX Study Abroad trips, typically ten senior nursing students travel to Hue,Vietnam to study community health and pediatric nursing. The program provides hands-on clinical experiences in an acute care children’s hospital and in rural clinics and hospitals.
While in Hue, the nursing students are partnered with a Vietnamese physicians and nurses who assist the students in honing their patient assessment skills. When not in the hospital providing patient care, the nursing students participate in seminars led by a faculty member and MEDRIX Executive Director LaRelle Catherman. These seminars help students explore the similarities and differences between health care in the US and Vietnam. The students see many illnesses and injuries they would not commonly see in the US, such as malaria, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and dengue fever. Even familiar diseases like cancer are seen in a different light in Vietnam. Patients who would be recovering from cancer in the US are seen in end-of-life stages in Vietnam due to lack of available medications. While some children with congenital heart disease might be treated in Vietnam, many are not able to afford treatment, and students see kids in a very different disease stage than would be expected in the US.
Over the last ten years, about 197 US and Vietnamese nursing students have benefited from this unique international experience. A number of past Vietnamese nursing students have now moved on to become professional nursing leaders. US nursing students gain invaluable knowledge and understanding of the social determinant of health within Vietnamese and ethnic minority cultures. They bring back to the US a new level of compassion and awareness of struggles surrounding health care in minority communities. Many participants have gone on to use this increased cultural sensitivity as part of their professional practice both globally and in the Pacific Northwest.