by Sheryl Marlar

In an effort to increase cultural awareness as well as their nursing skills, two students and an assistant professor from the Tanner Health System School of Nursing recently studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary.

UWG Nursing Studies Abroad in BudapestDr. Rita Mahmoud, Donata Giamboy, and Chelsea Mobley spent most of the month of May in Budapest.

“I didn’t know much about the culture before this study abroad experience, but we were exposed to different people, language, and ways of living and traveling,” said Chelsea, who was a little uncertain about how easily she would adapt to the culture.

While culture differences such as language barriers and transportation were indeed a shock, the disparity in health was the most impactful disturbance.

“Because of the universal heath insurance plan and the poorer nature of the country, the approach to health care was quite different than that of America,” Chelsea added. “The way they try to preserve as many supplies as possible, to multi-bed hospital rooms, we instantly had a new appreciation for the quality of American health care.”

Donata echoed some of the same sentiments when reflecting on her visit to a special needs orphanage.

“We could really tell how much the nurses cared for the children,” she said. “They sang a simple song in Hungarian that I was able to pick up on and sing along. As we were preparing to leave, I was still humming the song and a little girl next to me was dancing and smiling to my humming. Even though there was this huge language barrier, I was able to communicate with one little girl.”

Dr. Mahmoud said another cultural difference that took some getting used to was transportation.

“In Budapest, walking and public transportation are considered the main methods to get around,” she said. “I appreciate that I’m able to go places in the U.S. by means of driving my own car.”

The trip provided all three with several unique opportunities they otherwise would not experience in the states. Both Chelsea and Donata said they were strongly impacted by their experience of observing open heart surgery while working in the cardiology unit in Budapest.

“I was a foot away from a beating heart, the surgeon actually spoke English and was able to walk us through everything he was doing,” Donata said. “I’ve been in the OR a few times, but I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to watch a mitral valve replacement in the U.S.”

Chelsea also performed an ECG on a classmate, something she had never done in the states.

“We were able to utilize their different equipment and learn skills necessary in any clinical environment, but in a foreign country,” she added.

Dr. Mahmoud, Chelsea, and Donata said they felt that this trip advanced their academic goals in more ways than one, including becoming more culturally diverse.

“My caring teaching philosophy is upheld with experiencing different multicultural people, events, and situations,” said Dr. Mahmoud.

“This was by far one of the best decisions I could have made, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to study in Budapest,” Chelsea added. “I learned so much about myself, not only as a student, but also, most importantly, as a nurse. The knowledge I took from lectures and the experience I gained working in a more culturally sensitive environment are things that I will carry throughout my career forever.”

“We read and learn about how nurses need to be culturally accepting, but until you’re actually placed in a different culture, then you really learn how to care for patients who do not share the same beliefs and values,” Donata said. “This trip has helped evolve my nursing career and has helped prepare me for my future.”

Posted on November 2, 2015