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Nursing in another country: Eight Central Coast nurses travel to Guadalajara as part of degree program 

Nurses are the glue that holds a patient's health care journey together. They provide medications, treatments, emotional support, advice, and education to all different kinds of people in need of their services.

On March 18, 14 nurses—including eight from Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and one from Twin Cities Community Hospital—traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, to learn and practice providing health care for all.

click to enlarge PROVIDING NECESSARY CARE Local nurses traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, to learn more about international health issues and culturally competent health care delivery. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TENET HEALTHCARE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tenet Healthcare
  • PROVIDING NECESSARY CARE Local nurses traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, to learn more about international health issues and culturally competent health care delivery.

The one-week trip was a collaboration between CSU Monterey Bay and the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara as part of a course for the BSN (baccalaureate degree in nursing). The course—called Global Health and the Socio-Cultural Constructs of Health and Illness—provides students with the opportunity to examine concepts and theories using a medical anthropology lens to understand the complexities of socio-cultural constructs of health and illness. It allows students to examine their own beliefs and values of health and well-being and apply this understanding to the intricacies within health care-related decision-making.

Amanda Krepp, a registered nurse in the emergency department at Sierra Vista, traveled to Guadalajara with the group of nurses. Throughout the course, Krepp said, she and the other nurses learned about international health issues and culturally competent health care delivery.

The class was the first to go to Guadalajara, and Krepp said it's the first class of many.

In the morning, the nurses conducted clinical rounds in different cities, including blood pressure screenings, height and weight measurements, and blood glucose testing. Physicians were also on deck in case patients needed to speak with a doctor if their results were abnormal.

Krepp said in the afternoon the nurses attended courses at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. She said the nurses learned about differences in care and access to care between Mexico and the United States, the scope of practicing nursing in Mexico, disease processes impacting the Latino population, and continuing Spanish language classes.

"This experience was invaluable; not only did it solidify our ability to at least minimally communicate with the growing Spanish-speaking population, it granted us the opportunity to learn about opportunities in our practice to ensure all patients feel safe and welcome when seeking medical care," she said.

In order to better communicate with their patients, the nurses all took an introductory medical Spanish course prior to arrival, although fluency was not necessary. But the nurses stayed with local host families during the trip as well as communicated with the community, Krepp said, so speaking some Spanish was a must. She said at the end of the week, the nurses' Spanish had improved noticeably.

The group, Krepp said, was also able to check out the excellent social services and programs for Guadalajara's senior population and discussed how nurses could implement something similar in San Luis Obispo.

"In today's culture of hostility and fear between different countries and cultures, it was an honor to represent a change toward spreading knowledge, compassion, and empathy," she said.

Fast fact

• On April 19, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy students performed good deeds in the community through the school's annual fundraiser, Heroic Quest. Heroic Quest is a way for students to discover and enact small deeds of heroism that will benefit the community. In addition to individual quests, students also participated in several all-school quests including cards of gratitude, which are heartfelt notes created for veterans and hospice clients; acts of kindness, where students handed out flowers along with a kind note to strangers; and donating canned goods to the SLO Food Bank. To find out what Classical Academy students are doing next, visit sloclassical.org.

• Honolulu-based financial advisory and wellness firm The Rice Partnership has officially opened its first California office in downtown San Luis Obispo, located at 1304 Santa Rosa St. Ashley Wilken, portfolio manager, senior wealth manager, and two-time Cal Poly graduate will lead the first mainland office. For more information, visit thericepartnership.com. Δ

Staff writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to kgarcia@newtimesslo.com.

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