Students Discover Personal Side of Community Nursing in Scotland
USF Bull Nurses traveled more than 4,000 miles across the pond to learn that the slogan “Making Lives Better” can take on a whole different meaning.
Fifteen College of Nursing students spent 15 days in Scotland immersed in community health as part of the college’s global nursing program. The group was the first of two from the accelerated second-degree program to go abroad. The next group travels to Scotland from March 23 to April 7.
Students found that Scottish nurses are trained to deliver care with a more personal approach than they were used to.
“We do focus on compassion in the U.S., but it is to a different extent there,” said USF nursing student Kate Monahan. “Here, it is task-oriented, then your patient. There, it is ‘Your patient is your family.’ That is something I have really taken back, even in my preceptorship. I notice I try to have normal conversations, not just about their medical diagnosis.”
Nursing student Nikki Phipps, who also went on the trip, agreed.
During her preceptorship, Phipps said she was caring for an elderly woman who wanted to have the blinds in her room opened. She took the extra time to check in on the woman’s well-being and found that she was struggling with her daughter’s recent move to Tennessee.
“Who else is going to have that conversation with her?” Phipps asked, adding that the recent community health experience has been a major influence in her approach to nursing. “I don’t know that I would have done that before.”
Phipps also noticed that nurses and doctors in Scotland collaborate on a peer-to-peer basis as opposed to the more common hierarchy of health care in the states.
Monahan noted the same collaborative relationship at Maggie’s Centre in Forth Valley, one of 21 cancer-focused units throughout the United Kingdom, where she saw doctors drinking tea with nurses at the start of the day.
“It was focused around a kitchen table idea,” Monahan added. “They’d just have a normal discussion with you before going straight into medical (conversation). It gives people a more comfortable feeling.”
The facility is designed by architects to be tranquil and home-like. The center is run by a charity and was built to provide a space where cancer patients can feel calm, collect their thoughts, and engage with others.
Nursing student Natalina Argento came away impressed with the Scottish system’s focus on mental health, where a patient-first approach was the priority.
Argento spent a day of her trip working in hospice care, which she admitted to “dreading” initially. When she arrived, Argento noticed a paradigm shift from the more depressing American hospice environment to a more positive experience in the UK.
In Scotland, they “want to see how you can basically improve somebody’s quality of life to the fullest extent. Here, people go to hospice to die,” Argento said. “There, a lot of times, they go to hospice to get their plan figured out, and then they don’t stay there until they die. They go home afterwards. So it’s not like you’re dying in this medical environment.”
That mental health awareness and holistic approach is given to employees as well, with tea breaks given throughout the day to reduce stress. The students noticed that medical personnel who felt comfortable taking their prescribed breaks wound up passing along that wellness to their patients.
The students said they have professors Drs. Stephen McGhee and Rebecca Lutz, who also were the trip’s chaperones, to thank for preparing them for the experience.
“I had multiple nurses say they were so impressed with our nursing students,” Phipps said. “They were blown away at our level of knowledge, and I thought that was a really cool testament to how much we are learning.”
There was time for play amidst all of the hard work. Dr. McGhee, a native of Scotland, helped lead the group of students around his homeland. Students were able to tour Edinburgh, Inverness and Stirling.
In Edinburgh, they walked the Royal Mile, a mile-long stretch between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. Off a side street they discovered The Elephant House, better known as the “birthplace” of Harry Potter, where J. K. Rowling started writing the series.
Dr. McGhee took a group to explore the Culloden battlefield, home to the final Jacobite rising in April 1746, where hundreds of Scottish clansmen fought to their death in a battle against the government soldiers.
Some students visited the William Wallace Monument, which was only a short walk from the Stirling University campus. Students climbed the 246 steps to the monument’s top to learn about the history of Scotland’s national hero.
Others explored the Falkirk Wheel, a boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The massive structure is a way to connect Glasgow to Edinburgh when traveling by boat. While there, students also saw the Kelpies, large horse head sculptures representing Scottish folklore’s shape-shifting water spirits.
An early-morning trip to Urquhart Castle took the group through Loch Ness, the home of a certain, well-known monster, who may have been scoped out by a Bull Nurse.
“I saw her,” Phipps insisted. “No one else saw her, but I saw Nessie.”
To learn more about their trip, read the students’ travel blog.
Story by Alex Hooper, USF College of Nursing
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