Saint Louis University

A global education initiative from the School of Nursing is winning accolades from the Institute of International Education.

SLU nursing students in Madrid practice taking blood pressures.

The program, which allows SLU nursing students to study for their first two years in Madrid and complete their final two years in St. Louis, will receive a Special Recognition for "internationalizing the profession" by extending the opportunity for SLU nursing students to study abroad.

It is one of 10 international programs that will be recognized at IIE's award ceremony for the "Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education" at the Institute's Best Practices in Internationalization conference on March 22 in New York.

SLU launched its international nursing program in 2003, offering courses at its Madrid campus that help fulfill the degree requirements for the bachelor of science in nursing degree. Opening international study to SLU nursing students, the program allows both U.S. and international students to work on their nursing degrees for two years in Madrid, then transfer to the St. Louis campus for their last two years of study.

While in Madrid, students take specialized courses to develop cultural sensitivity and learn Spanish, and gain clinical experience in Spanish hospitals and clinics.

The nursing courses taught in Spain mirror those in St. Louis and are closely coordinated between the two campuses. As many as 40 students enroll each semester in the study abroad program, which is the only one in the country that allows nursing students to graduate on time without having to catch up on missed coursework. It is attracting record numbers of students.

"The program is a huge selling point for the School of Nursing," said Judith Carlson, associate professor and traditional operation coordinator. "When I meet students and families at freshman orientation, they say they chose SLU because of this opportunity. Some students intend to serve in Spanish-speaking communities, and others just want to expand their cultural awareness."

The program is rapidly expanded, Carlson added.

An independent, non-profit organization, the Institute of International Education designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees; conducts policy research; and provides advice and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.