Posted on Jul 25, 2018

Nursing Students Returned to Panama for Research

Nursing Students Returned to Panama for Research

Four USF College of Nursing students recently returned from Panama where they participated in a community health research project by going door-to-door to collect data on local residents.

The short trip in June was the second time in as many months for the foursome to travel to the Central American country to gain international health care experience. This time, the focus was on learning the research-side, and not the clinical-side, of global nursing.

Back in April, the group visited Panama as part of the college’s global clinical initiative, where nursing students travel abroad to learn how community health is practiced.

It was during that trip, on a bus ride, where students first learned about the possibility of returning for research work. They overheard USF nursing professors talking about coming back to Panama in June to work on specific research projects and to host a research-centered conference at the University of Panama.

“We all loved the culture, and the people we had met at the university. We felt so welcomed, and we all agreed that we wanted to go back,” said Kelly Klovensky, a USF nursing student spent two weeks in Panama in April.

Klovensky said after returning to Tampa, she and three other students approached Associate Professor Constance Visovsky about tagging along on the research trip, but that they would pay for the trip themselves.

Nursing student Laura Paloumpis said returning to Panama was worthwhile, because they were able to work with peers at the University of Panama to help administer a Ministry of Health survey and gain first-hand experience conducting research at the grass-roots level.

“We were collecting data in the community about community issues and problems. We would go door-to-door and talk to the family and ask questions. What we’re doing now is looking at the data and coding it,” said Paloumpis.

Once back in Tampa, students began coding and analyzing the data. The ultimate goal of the survey is to identify the heath care needs of that particular community, so that health care providers can better serve the residents in the future, they said.

The students also took part in a scientific research seminar at the University of Panama that was put together by Dr. Visovsky, Assistant Professor Ivonne Hernandez, and Associate Professor Denise Maguire with funding from the USF World Faculty Travel Grant Program.

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing