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Kent State Ashtabula Nursing Students Embark on Experiential Learning Trip to the Dominican Republic

Posted July 22, 2013

Experiential learning trip focuses on global healthcare

enter photo description
Nursing students from Kent State University at Ashtabula
spent a week serving the medical needs of the Barahona
community in the Dominican Republic during an experiential
learning trip.

Kent State University at Ashtabula nursing students traveled to the Dominican Republic in May for an experiential learning opportunity that is the culmination of the Professional Nursing with a Global Perspective course that was taught this past spring. Course professors, Tamra Courey, M.S.N., and Julie Senita, M.S.N., traveled with eight students and Dr. Lori Herpen and Dr. John DeCato, two local podiatrists. The group spent a week serving the medical needs of the Barahona community in the Dominican Republic.

Courey and Senita say that the trip is an amazing opportunity for students to learn and understand the role of the professional nurse in diverse situations, and to appreciate how culture affects healthcare.

“The students are clearly invested in learning about culturally relevant nursing practice and expanding their knowledge about culturally competent care,” Courey says.

The course is offered as part of Kent State Ashtabula’s registered nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program for RNs seeking an advanced degree. Part of the course requirements involve students designing and presenting health teaching projects to individuals living in the country. The students taught residents about sun safety, wound and foot care and dental hygiene. In addition to the teaching aspect of the trip, students worked on a health-related community service project to eliminate dirt floors in some of the homes in the community. Students also volunteered at a local school.

Kristy Cunningham, a registered nurse working in the emergency room at Ashtabula County Medical Center, is working on earning her bachelor’s degree and was enrolled in Courey and Senita’s class.

“I was looking forward to this trip because I feel very fortunate to be able to provide care to those who truly have no access to healthcare. I know that this experience will humble me in a way I cannot yet imagine,” Cunningham says.

DeCato has been to the Barahona community twice before to volunteer his medical services. He looked forward to Kent State Ashtabula’s nursing students having the same opportunity.

“The Kent State University nursing students will have experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. The benefits from this type of educational experience are invaluable,” DeCato says.

DeCato and Herpen provided podiatric care to area residents while escorting the students on the trip.

Susan Stocker, Ph.D., dean and chief administrative officer for Kent State Ashtabula, was excited about the opportunity for the students.

“The leadership our nursing faculty has demonstrated is exceptional. Tamra Courey and Julie Senita have organized an international experience for our nursing students that will allow them to use their nursing skills to make a difference in the lives of others,” Stocker says.

“The enthusiasm and support we have received from the students, the campus, and the community has been overwhelming. We hope this trip opens up future education-abroad and experiential learning opportunities for students on the Ashtabula Campus,” Senita says.

The students who embarked on this inaugural nursing trip include: Kristy Cunningham, Heather Halford, Chris Jarvis, Deborah Keyes, Gabrielle Landon, Candice Pollard, Crystal Severino, and Stephanie Truckey.