In the winter of 2006, a small group of students enrolled in a new elective course at Bloomberg Nursing – NUR480: Critical Perspectives in Global Health. Designed to expose students to the nursing profession throughout the world, a partnership with the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) saw students travelling to India in the summer of 2007. Since then, a total of 70 Bloomberg Nursing students have travelled to India to work with CHAI, gaining real-world experience and insight into global and international health. On March 16, Bloomberg Nursing was the proud host of an NUR480 Reunion, attended by Father Dr. Tomi Thomas, Director General of CHAI.
“This course is a living exemplar of integrating global citizenship in our curriculum,” says Professor Linda Johnston, Dean at Bloomberg Nursing. “Students gain experience in Primary Health Care, urban and rural health, community and institutional based settings in resource-constrained areas.” Students of NUR480 gathered to share their experiences with Father Thomas, and how their experiences with CHAI impact their nursing practice here in Ontario. Jo-Ann Trieu (2012), Lauren Cosolo (2013), and Micaela Hardy-Moffat (2014) gave a presentation on their visit to India, which included visits to rural health clinics, urban health initiatives in larger centres, and visits to private, public, and subsidized hospitals. They also spent time living in a nursing school in India, sitting in on classes and gaining understandings of their curriculum. They also invested time at an HIV/AIDS hospital and orphanage, gaining an understanding of the treatment and facilities for care for this population. “Social determinants of health affect each and every patient, and the delivery of their care, worldwide” says Freida Chavez, Director of the Global Affairs Office at Bloomberg Nursing. “Our nursing students learn about social determinants of health, but this trip to India allows students to experience the impact and the challenges of access and delivery of quality care to large populations in very resource constrained areas.”
Students visit India for four weeks, but their experiences have immediate impact on their nursing practice back home. Students have reported being mindful of how they use resources in the hospital, and the value of learning to understand a patient’s background in the process of conducting a health assessment and developing plans for best patient care. The students, however, are left with even deeper themes to reflect on when they return – gender as a political power, the impact of socioeconomic status on health outcomes, colonial influence, and the privilege of the developed world.
In light of the continued success of our Faculty relationship with CHAI, the University of Toronto is creating a Memorandum of Understanding with CHAI, further strengthening the relationship between the two organizations. This new agreement will also expand possibilities for knowledge exchange to other faculties at U of T.
“As a committed leader in global and professional health, I am delighted to join this university with a renewed emphasis on internationalization,” says Dean Johnson. “We look to our students to promote and advance global health initiatives, whether at home or abroad. We are extremely fortunate to work in partnership with CHAI, and to have the opportunity to enrich that partnership further.”