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Exchange programme gives student nurses insight into different healthcare systems

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US nursing students on an exchange visit to Scotland have highlighted the work of NHS community nurses, a workforce they say is lacking at home to the detriment of patients.

A transatlantic exchange programme has seen nursing students from Aberdeen and Houston compare their countries’ healthcare systems and university training.

“It’s been really interesting… comparing how different the NHS is with our private care system”

Amelia Holt

Two students from Houston Baptist University have spent the past two weeks in the North East, working alongside nursing colleagues from Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian.

The exchange programme is part of the “sister” relationship between the two cities and is supported and financed by the Grampian Houston Association and Houston Grampian Association.

Originally launched in 1994, the project has worked to compare and contrast each countries’ respective healthcare system, university nursing education, hospitals and cultures.

During their stay, US students Amelia Holt and Celeste Ross have undertaken a programme of academic, nursing, social and civic activities.

They also experienced a combination of clinical placements at NHS Grampian and community nursing visits, in addition to health professions classes and seminars.

Ms Holt said: “A nurses day-to-day job here isn’t too different from what we have back home, but it’s been really interesting looking at the bigger picture and comparing how different the NHS is with our private care system.”

“It will be great to get a better idea of nursing worldwide”

Kimberley Tosh

Ms Ross added: “I really like the fact that there are community nurses who will go out and visit patients, which is something we don’t have in Houston where people who can’t make it into the hospital will just continue to get worse.

“I think my favourite learning experience has been in Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and noticing the big focus on care and breastfeeding,” she said.

Second year RGU nursing students Chloe Sangster and Kimberley Tosh have worked closely with Ms Holt and Ms Ross over the past two weeks.

They will travel to Houston in September for their exchange visit, where they will be given the chance to learn more about nursing in the US.

Ms Tosh said: “We’re looking forward to making the return trip to Houston later this year and it will be great to get a better idea of nursing worldwide.

“The four of us have spoken about all of the different places we’ll get to go to and it will be a really interesting experience comparing the US with Scotland,” she said.

Jackie Leith, lecturer and US exchange co-ordinator at Robert Gordon’s school of nursing and midwifery, said: “It is always a pleasure to be part of this once in a lifetime experience for the students and it’s great to see that they all gain so much from it.

“Our thanks go out to the incredible support of our clinical colleagues, who consistently go above and beyond and without whom these exchanges could not happen.”

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