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Globetrotters: Loma Linda RNs Reach Across Continents

To honor Loma Linda University’s philosophy of bringing health, healing, wholeness, and hope to humanity through education and healthcare, nurses from the university and its medical center have reached across oceans to share information and skills with nurses in other countries.

“We’re helping other people and building healthcare capacity internationally,” says Jan Zumwalt, RN, MS, MBA, associate director of the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center’s Global Health Institute. Zumwalt began working with a Chinese hospital part time in 1992 and now manages Loma Linda University Medical Center’s focused approach to improving world health.

“It’s a blessing and a privilege to have the opportunity to work internationally,” Zumwalt says. “You can see it making a difference.”

Reaching Into China

Above photo and right photo: Sabrina Kroetz, RN, works with the heart team in Egypt.

Loma Linda University Medical Center began a relationship with the 800-bed Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital 15 years ago, assisting with the building and opening of the facility and helping it achieve accreditation from The Joint Commission in 2007.

“We wanted them to improve in quality and patient safety,” Zumwalt says. “Introducing them to these standards and what they had to do to meet the standards has been an incredible process and helped them grow by leaps and bounds.”

Seventy-six Loma Linda nurses have volunteered. Ten nurses stayed for time periods that ranged from six months to five and a half years, the average being two years. The nurses stayed so long due to the project’s goals and their passion for international work.

Four California nurses recently presented coaching and leadership sessions at the Chinese facility’s annual international conference, attended by 80 nurses, as well as physicians and administrators from throughout the region.

“They are eager learners and took away a lot from our talks,” says Hazel Curtis, RN, MPH, a speaker and trainer in staff development at Loma Linda. “Nurses are the same around the world. We’re all eager to provide patient-centered care, and there’s an opportunity for global hand holding and sharing with other cultures and countries.”

Reaching Into Afghanistan

In Kabul, Afghanistan, Loma Linda nurses train nurses at Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital about infection control, disease processes, treatments, and other topics as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development contract, set to end this summer. Although all nurses returned home for the holidays, a new nurse was scheduled to travel to Afghanistan in February.

“Our nurses are not doing nursing care; they are teaching and helping them with their systems and documentation process,” Zumwalt says.

Loma Linda nurses have stayed in Afghanistan up to three years. The nurses, along with other expatriate medical, med tech, and administrative staff, live in a dedicated apartment building on the hospital compound.

Reaching Into Egypt

Loma Linda University Medical Center nurses traveled to China to teach at an international academic conference. From left: Ye Zhihong, RN, of China with Loma Linda nurses Hazel Curtis, RN, Jan Zumwalt, RN, Elen McCarville, RN, Norie Bencito, RN, and Debbie Damazo, RN.

Loma Linda also sends nurses to Seventh Day Adventist hospitals throughout the world to educate nurses, or to help them set up ICUs or start other programs.

Last fall, a team of four nurses and several surgeons traveled to Alexandria New University Hospital in Egypt to train clinicians how to perform cardiac surgery on small children and provide current standards of postop care. The nurses and surgeons assisted with 17 tetralogy of Fallot repairs in two weeks.

“Our goal was to show them how to do it so they could do [it] after we left,” says Sabrina Kroetz, RN, MSN, a nurse in Loma Linda’s pediatric cardiothoracic ICU. Initially, the Egyptian nurses seemed skeptical the children could recover and be discharged so quickly. “They took more ownership once they realized what we did was going to work.”

Kroetz helped the nurses think critically, not just perform tasks. She calls the experience life-changing.

“It showed me how much of a need there is for nurses to go internationally,” Kroetz says. “It’s so important for us to educate other nurses in whatever our expertise is.”

Taking a Global Perspective

In addition to Loma Linda nurses’ outreach, the medical center invites nurses from foreign lands to its campuses as on-site observers, which gives them experiences they can take back home. Some nurses have learned wound care techniques or postop care. Others have gained new leadership perspectives.

The School of Nursing participates in the university’s international initiatives and collaborates with the medical center. Three nurses at Sir Run Run Shaw, as well as 39 other nurses from 23 countries, have completed master’s degrees through the school’s off-campus educational track graduate programs, held during six-week sessions in Thailand and South Africa.

“Our purpose is to strengthen international nursing around the world,” says Marilyn M. Herrmann, RN, PhD, dean of the university’s nursing school.

Most of the graduates pursue teaching roles, but some return to clinical leadership positions. Many hail from regions where textbooks are scarce and hospitals lack modern equipment and resources. The nursing school also sends curriculum consultants to foreign nursing schools, especially those in developing countries.

Additionally, Loma Linda offers its U.S. students courses that allow them to participate in short mission trips. Twenty undergraduates travel to Africa each summer. Others go to Nicaragua.

“The changes we see in students who have been overseas is phenomenal. They are never the same,” says Dynnette E. Hart, RN, DrPH, CPNP, associate dean of the undergraduate program.

Loma Linda’s international work has led to networking, support, and fellowship among participants, says Elizabeth A. Bossert, RN, DNS, associate dean of graduate programs.

“It’s incredibly stimulating for faculty to see things in other places, and it enriches our programs here,” Bossert adds. “To be able to go out and help individuals around the world accomplish something they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise is amazing.”

By | 2020-04-15T15:06:12-04:00 February 23rd, 2009|Categories: National|0 Comments

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