Nursing students from the Inverness area are teaming up with counterparts from Israel during a summer exchange visit.
Adrienne Shaw, Sarah Anderson and Lucy Halls are “buddying” up with three student nurses from Nazareth: Ashwak Mukataran, Areej Habib and Ahmad Khatib.
The Arab-Israelis arrived in Scotland on 6 July, and will spend three weeks in the country - based at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for the first two weeks and Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway in the third week.
The exchange has been organised by the Highland Campus of the University of Stirling – where the local students are based – in partnership with NHS Highland.
Irene Murray, one of the University’s Teaching Fellows, has been working with Dr Amal Khazin, Director of Nursing Education at the Nazareth Hospital in Israel, to set up the exchange project which began in July 2013.
Irene, who lives in Inverness, served in the Nazareth Hospital for 18 years before taking up her post with the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health at the University’s Highland Campus in Inverness. She said: “This Exchange Project is an excellent opportunity for students to participate in a visit providing insight into the variations in healthcare and professional and cultural issues between the Middle East and the West.
“The development of cultural sensitivity and competence which this Project allows will be invaluable to the students in their future careers in nursing.
“Three of our third-year nursing students have volunteered to be ‘buddies’ to the visitors. In turn they will be supported by their mentors who are NHS Highland registered nurses.”
She added: “The Nazareth students will have opportunity for a wide variety of nursing experience. They will not be participating in the delivery of healthcare but are looking forward to observing first-hand a different system of healthcare, and discovering how evidence-based practice, person-centred care and quality improvement is integrated into the day-to-day care of the patient”.
Sarah Anderson, one of the buddies, said, "This will be a great opportunity to share knowledge and become more aware of cultural differences which can only enhance my practice. Also, becoming a buddy for a short time will give me greater insight into the role of the mentor."
In April 2014, two University of Stirling students, Adrienne Shaw and Ciara McDunphy took part in a reciprocal visit to Nazareth.
The students had the opportunity to work on placement at the Nazareth Hospital where they benefitted from cultural insights into the delivery of healthcare within the multicultural, multi-ethnic society of Israel.
One of these students, Adrienne Shaw said: “It was very interesting to learn about a unique culture away from a tourist's perspective. We learned how Israel delivers healthcare to patients and witnessed how students in Israel learn and study. It was fascinating to develop new connections. Also I now appreciate much more what we have in our country in terms of medical equipment and expectations. It was an experience that certainly opened my mind.”
Dr Annetta Smith, Associate Head of the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, said: “This student exchange scheme provides a unique opportunity for nursing students to witness a different system of healthcare and gives insight into the education of student nurses in different international and cultural contexts. This exchange will provide students with opportunities to establish new contacts and friendships into the future.”
She added, “We were also privileged to have Dr Amal Khazin (Director of Nursing Education) and Samia Abu Rabie from the School of Nursing at the Nazareth Hospital) visit us at Highland Campus in June. Academics from both Nazareth and the Highland Campus of the University of Stirling had the opportunity to share their experiences of nurse education and research.”
The Nazareth students raised money to cover their trip to Scotland. They are staying in staff accommodation on the Raigmore site, thanks to the financial support of the Stirling Enhancement of Learning Fund (SELF 2014), one of the aims of which is to support “Internationalising of the curriculum”.
In particular, the Fund supports efforts to increase the number of students on international exchange programmes and to ensure an international dimension is promoted in each student group. Further financial support for subsistence, for travel to Stornoway to observe the delivery of healthcare on the Western Isles, and for sightseeing, has been generously provided by Santander. Without the financial support of these two funds this Project would not have been possible.
The Nazareth Hospital, based in Nazareth in Northern Galilee, although known locally as ‘The English Hospital’ has strong Scottish connections. Since 1861 the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society (EMMS) has supported the development of the Hospital and has trained medical personnel to work in needy areas. In 2004 the EMMS divided into two separate charities: “EMMS International” which supports primary healthcare projects in various parts of the developing World and “EMMS Nazareth”. or “The Nazareth Trust” which owns the Nazareth Hospital EMMS and the Nazareth School of Nursing.
The School, which opened in 1924, along with the Hospital, is a distinctively Christian organisation although around 70 per cent of its female students are Moslem. It was the current Director of Nursing Education, Dr Amal Khazin, who initiated this Exchange Project with the aspiration that the experience would “broaden perspectives, change thinking, facilitate acceptance of differences, ‘make peace with others and self’, and increase student motivation to study and ‘do something different’”. Since her suggestion was made at the end of 2012 her ideas have been taken forward by Irene Murray, Teaching Fellow on the Highland Campus of the University of Stirling. Irene, who previously served in Nazareth over many years as a midwife, midwifery tutor and in management roles, is very much enjoying the re-kindling of the ‘Nazareth connection’ and providing this unique international exchange opportunity for student nurses.