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The Journey Continues

Pain, Palliative Care, and Hospice – Learning from Each Other

Studying abroad can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity for faculty and students alike. For many years, former College of Nursing Professor Joann (Jo) Eland would lead a group of several nursing and other health science students on an annual journey to Trivandrum, India, where she taught a three-week course titled “Hospice, Pain and Palliative Care.” The course was co-taught and coordinated with Pallium India, a nongovernmental, nonprofit hospice organization that provides free medical care for many of India’s poorest citizens.

Picking up where Dr. Eland left off, the India Winterim course (now titled “Pain, Palliative Care, and Hospice – Learning from Each Other”) is now under the purview of Assistant Professor Stephanie Gilbertson-White PhD, ARNP. 

“This trip, we had five BSN students, one RN-BSN, and two pre-nursing students along with 13 other students in health related majors,” said Dr. Gilbertson-White. “It was a great trip … now I can see why Jo went every year!”

From December 27 to January 15, this group of interprofessional students from nursing, pharmacy, social work, human physiology, radiation sciences, and global health, took part in an intensive curriculum that focused on palliative care in the Southern region of the country. In addition to Dr. Gilbertson-White, the course was taught by Dr. Kashelle Lockman (Pharmacy) and Dr. Ann Broderick (Medicine).

“The highlight of the trip for me was being able to experience health care in a different cultural setting,” explained UI RN-BSN student Maggie Kjeld. “Not only did I get the opportunity to observe practices in Indian health care, but gained new knowledge along the way to bring back and apply to my current practice. I also left this experience knowing that I imparted some of my knowledge on Pallium staff for them to add into their current practices. It was a sharing of knowledge across cultural and language barriers.”

Throughout the trip, students attended lectures on the topics of pain, palliative care, communication, and Ayurvedic medicine. In addition, they participated in inpatient care and home visits to patients receiving clinical services from Pallium and worked on quality improvement projects with the Pallium staff.

“The India Winterim was a transformative learning experience. For three weeks I was immersed in a different culture than my own. It was incredible to learn about pain and palliative medicine in a different setting and see the amazing care that the providers give to their patients,” said Angela Guerrero, a pre-nursing student at Iowa. “Seeing the Pallium staff model compassionate care inspired me and gave me hope to be able to offer that same kind of care to future patients.”

“I was very proud to be part of an interdisciplinary team that is working to combat the growing concern of antibiotic resistance. Providing education and possible solutions to the team made me realize how much I have to offer as an undergraduate student,” added Austin Witt (BSN class of December 2018).

During the group’s free time, they participated in a number of cultural emersion activities, including attending a Carnatic music festival, learning about and watching Indian cinema at a local film school, and visiting an elephant sanctuary.

“The India Winterim trip was a life changing experience. I know my understanding and appreciation of health care has changed for the better,” noted BSN student Elly Sourwine. “It was also great to experience everything else that India has to offer. From elephant sanctuaries and house boats, to crazy rickshaw rides and visiting beautiful mosques … I can safely say there was something for everyone on this trip.”

Dr. Gilbertson-White noted that in the American health care system, it’s often easy to get caught up in the latest drugs, interventions, and technologies. Working with students, faculty and staff at Pallium reminded her that it’s easy to overlook the impact that high quality basic care can have on patients.

“Paying close attention to hygiene, range of motion, nutritional status, and addressing loneliness goes a long way to alleviate suffering – no matter what country you are in. Living and working in India was an intense experience, but it was an affirmative and life changing one as well. Working side by side with the students, the other faculty, and the Pallium staff for close to three weeks re-connected me with my love of teaching. I can’t wait to take another group of interprofessional students to India next year.”

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Posted On: 
Jan 30th, 2018