Nursing Across Cultures

Students learn about transcultural nursing in Chile

University of Miami students learned about Chile's health care system from nursing colleagues in Santiago.

In the School of Nursing and Health Studies' inaugural international "minimester," eight students and faculty member Vivian Fajardo, Ph.D., A.R.N.P., traveled to Chile to experience international health issues and culturally sensitive, or transcultural, nursing firsthand. The three-week course, a partnership between the University of Miami and Universidad Nacional Andres Bello in Santiago, enabled undergraduate and graduate students to work in a metropolitan hospital setting as well as in community clinics. Fajardo says the trip abroad is a natural fit with the nursing school's curriculum and emphasis on cultural competency.

"Our students practiced nursing in a different health care system in a country that often lacks the resources that we are accustomed to in the United States," says Fajardo, who recently completed her doctorate in nursing. "They were challenged to apply their nursing skills while learning about the indigenous culture, belief systems, and different approaches to patient care in Chile."

Junior nursing student Gloria Vasquez de los Rios jumped at the chance to travel to Chile because, "I'm passionate about international nursing and the cultural aspects of nursing care," she says. "Even though Miami is a melting pot of cultures, we were really immersed in it there."

The B.S.N. student also says the U.S. could learn from Chile on better utilization of resources and family-centered care.

"They recycle many things that we discard as trash, and some of their systems are more efficient," says Vasquez de los Rios. "They also value and respect the elderly and involve them and their families in patient care."