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SLC nursing students will travel to Hawaii to gain cultural insight and knowledge of healthcare system


Hawaii is a dream destination for many. For a group of 29 students from the Practical Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs at St. Lawrence College in Kingston the  dream is becoming a reality. But they won’t be lounging on the infamous beaches, they’ll be gaining valuable cultural insight and experience in their field. The group will be in Hawaii from May 15 to June 5, 2013.


The trip is part cultural experience, with a healthy dose of hands-on learning in local shelters, family care centres, and alternative care centres. The trip will expose the students to healthcare delivery in a different part of the world and will enhance their skills as they become nurses in their own communities. In preparation for this experience the students have researched information on many aspects of Canadian culture and the social determinants of health and how health care is impacted by these factors. Students will present their research to the University of Hawaii and Maui College nursing students and faculty.


“While we hope to benefit the lives that we touch while in Hawaii, it is our own communities that we hope to return to and positively contribute to with a new founded respect, understanding and appreciation of Canadian culture and how our diversity is our strength,” said Tabatha Rutledge, a professor of Nursing at St. Lawrence College, and co-organizer of the trip.


While in Hawaii students will interact with the communities and populations to research the differences in health care and the culture of the Hawaiian people. In collaboration with HOPE Services Hawaii (a statewide non-profit that provides an array of services to the homeless of Hawaii) students have volunteered to paint a homeless shelter while in Kona, and read to and provide information on nursing and importance of education with families staying at a family shelter. Students have collected and purchased school supplies, personal hygiene products, clothing and linens to donate to each of these shelters.


“I am excited for this trip because Hawaii has such a different geographical setting. I am interested to learn about what they are doing in health care, both their challenges and strengths,” said BScN student Carol Faria. “When we think about Hawaii we think about a beautiful place for vacation, but for people who live there with different languages, traditions, and health supports, it’s not what we would typically think of as US healthcare. I hope to gain new friendships, build on my tolerance, develop further cultural understanding, and learn about a different health system. This will, without question, strengthen my empathy, compassion, and abilities as a nurse as I enter the working field.”


The idea began over a year ago following a discussion with students interested in learning about other cultures in our world, according to nursing professor Mary Ellen McGill, who also co-organized the trip. “The concept expanded to incorporate an interdisciplinary focus, which is important as nursing is intimately involved with other health care professionals,” she said.  “We will travel to four islands of Hawaii and have the opportunity to meet with and experience another healthcare delivery system which will include academic and hands-on contact in university and college environments, as well as attendance at an international Polynesian festival.”


The trip was supported by The St. Lawrence College International Centre, St. Lawrence College Foundation — Student Nursing Initiative Fund, St. Lawrence College Student Association, Ontario Public Service Employees Union-Local 417, Rose Bell, Associate Dean of Health Sciences at St. Lawrence College, and the hard work and dedication of our nursing students.





 About St. Lawrence College

With three friendly campuses in Brockville, Cornwall, and Kingston, St. Lawrence College is an integral part of the economic vibrancy of Eastern Ontario. St. Lawrence College is a close-knit community of 6,700 full-time students from Canada and from more than 40 countries worldwide, with more than 70,000 alumni. As part of ongoing sustainability initiatives, the College recently completed the installation of more than 1,600 solar modules on the roofs of our Kingston and Brockville campuses, the largest solar roof-top installation of any post-secondary institution in Canada. In addition to this investment in our campus infrastructure we have recently completed a multi-million dollar revitalization of our Cornwall campus. The college has many exciting Applied Research projects in progress, as well, our Corporate Learning and Performance Improvement group has helped more than 200 organizations grow and prosper. Hundreds enroll in our part-time and distance education courses each year. We work with thousands of clients annually at our Employment Service locations in Kingston, Sharbot Lake, Sydenham, and Ottawa.


For information:

Laura Tulchinsky

St. Lawrence College, Communications

613-544-5400, ext. 1291