Scrubs. Check. Stethoscope. Check. Umbrella. Check. Favorite poster. Check. Toothbrush. Check. Teddy bear. Check. There sure are a lot of miscellaneous items that I am stuffing into my suitcase as I prepare for my new journey to Dublin, Ireland. However, the most important items that I will carry don’t fit into my suitcase at all. Some will read this and wonder what important items I had to make the tough decision to leave behind, but this is not what I am referring to. Instead, these important “items” are not only with me, they are inside of me. As I am taking in my last few hours on US soil (and even some in US airspace as I do my final edits aboard my flight!), I am thinking of all the important “items” I will take with me: the love and support of my family and friends, the strong Jesuit values which my Georgetown education has afforded me thus far, an unending curiosity to learn about the world around me, intense excitement to explore my new home (but also a healthy level of nervousness!), and an openness to learning about cultures and traditions that differ from my own.
Now, I am not certain what you pack with you when you travel, but I would safely guess that not too many of you pack scrubs and a stethoscope. Please allow me to explain why I have….
Two and a half years ago, as I was making the difficult decision of which college to attend, the determining factor was whether I would be able to study abroad. Not too many nursing programs in the United States afford students the opportunity to take nursing courses abroad, and of those that do, it is often simply theory courses, without the clinical component. Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies (NHS) became my choice because students have the opportunity to apply to study abroad, completing both core theory components of the nursing curriculum as well as clinical hours.
As you may have guessed by now, my major is nursing, but I am also fulfilling the pre-med requirements. This put another hurdle in my dreams of studying abroad (and completing my undergraduate studies in four years). But though this hurdle was indeed sizable, it was not impossible to overcome. I took summer courses the last two years to make my dream a reality. When the work would pile up, and I would dream of being at the beach with friends, my motivation to remain positive and master the material to the best of my ability was the opportunity to not only study abroad but to be immersed in an international health system.
In Dublin, I will be representing the NHS by studying in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, & Health Systems at University College Dublin (UCD). Not only will I be taking academic courses, but I will also have clinical rotations. I will spend 60 hours at St. John of God Hospital for my mental health rotation. Next, I will go to St. Vincent’s University Hospital where I will spend 24 hours in hepatobiliary surgery followed by 36 hours of medical/surgical nursing. I am eager to experience firsthand a healthcare delivery system that differs from that of the United States, where I have had the opportunity to see the system from multiple points of view: patient, researcher, and student nurse.
Please stay tuned as I embark on this new journey! It is sure to be full of triumphs and pitfalls, unimaginable personal growth, new experiences, dreams of spontaneously cultivating an Irish accent, plenty of sporting events (hopefully spectating and playing!), and of course, some wonderful Irish food!