Summer nursing internship in Abu Dhabi provides unique opportunity to explore international nursing experience

17 August 2023

When Anjelica Martinez a first-year student at the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing saw an ad pop up on her LinkedIn feed for a four-week nursing internship at the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, she immediately applied.

“I love to take on every learning opportunity,” says Martinez, who also says that she knew this opportunity would help to expand her horizons allowing her to gain a new perspective on the work environment for nurses internationally.

The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an extension of the Ohio-based Cleveland Clinic, a prestigious US medical center that addresses complex and critical care requirements. The internships are intended to raise the profile of the Clinic in Abu Dhabi and act as a recruitment tool for future nurses, but they also provide an opportunity for nursing students like Martinez to gain valuable life experience.

A typical day during the internship for Martinez has included a 12-hour shift where she is assigned to a nurse to shadow on a particular unit. So far, Martinez has been able to witness the role of nurses in the cancer centre, neurology unit and the ICU. In addition to watching how her lead nurse interacts with patients, participating in informational huddles and listening to leadership talks, Martinez has also had the opportunity to witness some medically advanced procedures including robotic laparoscopic surgery, and the use of artificial intelligence in chemotherapy clinics.

“It has been so exciting to witness this advancement in medical technology in action and be front and centre during these procedures. It motivates me to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a nurse, there is so much to look forward to,” says Martinez.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the internship for Martinez has been the realization that the Clinic sets out to empower its nurses as it strives to improve patient outcomes. Nurses are involved in quality and patient safety projects and are involved in decision making through unit councils.

“The nurses are able to speak up and have their voices heard, which is so inspiring for me,” says Martinez.

Martinez also describes how intrigued she was by the collaboration and teamwork of nurses who came from all over the world to care for patients. In addition to coming together to standardize care, Martinez describes their commitment to their patients as inspiring, including their willingness to pick up Arabic phrases to better communicate with local patients.

This relational aspect of nursing is something that Martinez values deeply.

It is what spurred the UTM life sciences graduate to consider a career in nursing, where she knew she would be able to directly engage with people.

“The internship has proven to me that I made the right career choice. It has been different to my experience in clinical placements in that I am hands off in caring for the patients, but I am still able to interact with them, and that is something I really cherish,” says Martinez. “It has also helped me focus on my future subspecialities for my nursing career, like oncology.”

For any other nursing student consider an international opportunity like this, Martinez’s only advice to them is to be bold and brave, and to do it regardless of how much it might be outside your comfort zone.

And as to whether she will return to Abu Dhabi once her degree is complete, Martinez says “I really love the work culture at CCAD so it is something I’m considering. I’d like to stay open and explore all the future possibilities.”

“For now I’m really excited to apply what I’ve learned to my practice in Canada, and to be with the faculty again at Bloomberg Nursing. Without them this internship would not have been possible, and I’m grateful for all of their support,” says Martinez.