Health professions programs establish international ties

Health professions programs establish international ties

Roberto Campos

Tracy Snyder was a student in USI’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) in 2011 and took advantage of a study abroad opportunity. Students can study at Hochschule Osnabrück alongside the German university’s health professions students.

Snyder and other MHA and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students traveled to the German University of Applied Sciences, where Hochschule Osnabrück students and USI students taught one another about their respective culture’s healthcare systems.

A group of nine students from the two programs left Saturday to embark on the annual November trip that made Snyder challenge her own beliefs.

“(Going to Hochschule Osnabrück) made me and my classmate that went really think about our own healthcare system,” said Snyder, a 2012 graduate of the MHA program. “As you grow up in America, you don’t really think so much about the things that you always take for granted. Going somewhere else and learning how they do healthcare really made us reevaluate our own system.”

The students who traveled to Hochschule Osnabrück are the third group of students to participate in the adventure, which is planned around a one-week period in November when Hochschule Osnabrück student’s classes are cancelled – a period they call a “block week.”

During the block week, the students are required to take seminar courses in subjects they’re either interested in or subjects that relate to their field of study. USI’s MHA and MSN programs developed a block week course as well.

Kevin Valadares, health administration program director, is leading this year’s group to Osnabrück.

He is a firm believer in the educational and social gains from the experience.

“It’s not just about, ‘Oh, it’s really interesting, look at their health care system. Look how different it is. Or this food is so different,’” Valadares said. “It’s an interaction with someone who we have conversations with, and that can get pretty deep. Sometimes it can get a little awkward because we start to think about why do we believe certain things and do certain things.”

The Hochschule Osnabrück trip taken by MHA and MSN students is the only study abroad program offered to USI graduate students.

Valadares, who traveled to the German university in 2010, established a connection between their health profession’s program and USI’s health profession’s programs.

USI’s International Programs and Services (IPS) has more than 100 university partnerships around the globe that students can take advantage of. However, for graduate students, it’s harder to study abroad.

“It’s a little bit more difficult sometimes to study abroad because they’re in very structured programs,” said Andrea Barnard, assistant director of IPS. “It’s important that we do have programs, like what Dr. Valadares is doing, that works for graduate students.”

Before returning to the U.S., Valadares and the group will be traveling to HAN University of Applied Sciences, located in Nijmegen, Netherlands, to give presentations. It’s also an attempt to make a connection with another international university where future MHA and MSN students could study abroad.

“What’s interesting is seeing your healthcare system through the eyes of somebody else,” Valadares said. “It doesn’t matter what it is – it’s the health care system, it’s the educational system, it’s the culture. Seeing it through another person’s eyes really makes it interesting. They ask the questions perhaps that we don’t ask because we live it.”