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Finding a global perspective on nursing, health care

Five years after its inception, the Clemson University School of Nursing study abroad program in Cyprus continues to receive international academic recognition.

At the end of June, School of Nursing Director John Whitcomb traveled to Denmark to showcase the study abroad program at the European Transcultural Nursing Association conference, which featured more than 100 participants from 13 countries including the United States, Denmark, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Norway, Slovenia, Pakistan, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, Cyprus and Slovakia.

During his presentation, Whitcomb shared the development, impact and projected growth of the unique, international partnership between Clemson University and the University of Nicosia – a partnership that has enhanced transcultural nursing education for undergraduate students. 

Whitcomb said the program was developed to provide nursing students with an opportunity to study abroad without delaying their degree completion.  Summer classes are built into the undergraduate curriculum and nursing students graduate one semester earlier than their counterparts in other disciplines – a difference that previously made it difficult for undergraduate nursing students to study abroad and stay on track.

“We recognized a gap in study abroad opportunities for our students and found a way to provide the experience without compromising our curriculum or delaying their graduation,” said Whitcomb. “The nursing program at the University of Nicosia is a natural extension of our program at Clemson.”

After careful consideration, University officials and the state board of nursing approved the study abroad program in Cyprus, allowing students to participate during their sophomore year. Since the start of Spring 2019, 77 students have been through the international program.

 “As one of the few direct-admit nursing programs in the United States, it is groundbreaking to offer a transcultural, semester-long nurse education program specifically tailored to home institution requirements,” Whitcomb said.

While in Cyprus, students take the following courses:

  • Anatomy and Physiology 2
  • Technical Writing and Research
  • Community and Public Health 1
  • Acute Care
  • Comparative Health Care Contexts (Management of Care)
Kori Thompson

For senior Kori Thompson, studying abroad in the Spring 2022 semester has been the best part of her college experience so far.

“It allowed me to truly experience different healthcare systems and teachings,” she said. “I was able to learn more about holistic and patient-centered health care that is not as heavily focused on in the United States.”

With no classes on Fridays, she and her friends would explore the country and continent. During the semester, he visited Budapest, Rome, Egypt, Santorini, London and explored many areas of Cyprus.

While she created many memories that she will never forget, she said she also gained valuable insight into different cultures and customs that she will carry with him throughout his career.

“Being able to exchange ideas not only about health care but how living, in general, is so diverse in different parts of the world was very enlightening,” Thompson said. “Becoming more open-minded, unbiased and motivated to learn about different cultures and practices is essential to providing the best cultural competence in nursing.”

In March of this year, faculty members visited the current group of students in Cyprus to learn about their experiences firsthand and lay the groundwork for future expansions in the study abroad partnership.

(Left to right) John Whitcomb, SON Director; Leslie Ravan, SON Undergraduate Studies Director; Adam McFarlane, SON Lecturer

Leslie Ravan, undergraduate studies director in the School of Nursing, and faculty members explored nursing and other departments in the health sciences program. They toured the simulation and skills labs, the cadaver lab, saw the mobile health clinic, medical school, and the inpatient on-campus clinic, as well as historical spots in the area.

“I believe the face-to-face time with the students and Global Studies department was reinvigorating for us as administration,” Ravan said. “And our visit allowed us to see UNIC’s dedication to the students as well as how much the students were learning and enjoying the experience.”

Ravan hopes that the program will continue to grow with more students taking advantage of this opportunity each year. Through conversations, the faculty have learned that their students are returning feeling confident in their skill set and eager to share their experiences with others. The administration is discussing scholarships for students who may not be able to participate without assistance as well as the creation of a faculty exchange program with the University of Nicosia.

The School of Nursing is a part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, a 21st-century land-grant college joining together a unique combination of schools and departments: Communication, Nursing, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health Sciences and Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. These areas have distinctive characteristics and missions – all joined together by a common thread of service to people and communities.

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