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Nursing Students Complete Clinicals in Spain

by Isaiah Voss

04/13/2022

Emily Reames and Kendall Gawthrop, SLU-Madrid study abroad students, applied the skills they learned in their nursing labs to a hospital in Spain, Sanitas' La Zarzuela.

SLU-Madrid offers clinical experiences to satisfy requirements for the University’s nursing degree.

Dr. Martha Nelson, nursing faculty and clinical supervisor, said, “Nursing has some core functions in every country.” Thus, the students’ tasks range from administering medication to interacting with hospital staff to care for patients.

Emily Reames and Kendall Gawthrop, SLU-Madrid study abroad students, applied the skills they learned in their nursing labs to a hospital in Spain, Sanitas' La Zarzuela.

Nursing students and coordinator, Dr. Nelson, pose outside Hospital La Zarzuela.

"We train our nurses to have a holistic view," Nelson continued. She also noted that students benefit from SLU-Madrid's international training because in opens new "cultural experiences for their professional life." Students learn how to perform IV drips, adapt to different isolation protocols, and even mix medication, a responsibility always delegated to pharmacies in the U.S. health care system.

"Going into it, I was worried about speaking Spanish," said Reames. "I've learned how to communicate better through body language." Developing new ways of communicating also gave her new perspectives. "It helped me understand how patients who don't speak English in the U.S. would feel." She also said that the experience didn’t help her just in the medical setting, but on a personal level, too.

Gawthrop addressed her experience working in a Spanish-language environment. When asked if it was challenging to work with Spanish patients as an American, she reflected, "They are more interested in you. They ask questions about where you're from, and some will tell you that their granddaughter is in the U.S. because they want to know more about you." Gawthrop plans to take the new approaches to patient care she has acquired and apply them back home.

SLU-Madrid's international nursing program was awarded special recognition from the Council for International Education (CIEE) for "internationalizing the professions" due to its opening overseas clinical experiences to students. The program is thriving as it moves into its third decade of partnerships with hospitals and healthcare facilities across Madrid. "The hospital has been a great host," said Nelson. "They know that we come from an American education model and do things differently."