Daira Wilsonby Daira Wilson, Professor of Nursing

Teaching students to become “citizens of the world” is necessary in nursing education. However, it is often easy to rely on just teaching the basics of nursing to help them progress through nursing school. Students would undoubtedly benefit from learning about how nursing care is delivered around the world as well. I am so fortunate to have been chosen for the Global Education Faculty Learning Community (FLC) with a focus on global citizenship, which is run by ACC International Programs in collaboration with the UT-Austin Hemispheres consortium. Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, we met once a month to hear faculty from UT-Austin speak on a variety of global topics and research. The dialogue that followed these presentations was engaging and enlightening and I feel that I learned so much by being a part of this group. Our task was then to draw inspiration from these meetings and expose our students to global issues such as social justice, human rights and seeing humanity through a wider lens.

My plan included overlaying elements from my lectures into “Nursing Around the World” slides at the end of the class. For example, I used instruction on fluid and electrolyte imbalances in our patients to discuss how dehydration and diarrhea is the number one killer of children around the world. The students engaged in two-minute brainstorms to discuss the treatments that are used in the US to treat and prevent these problems. The conversations were lively and the students really took the task to heart by coming up with wonderful interventions. My next lecture discussed health disparities and introduced the concepts of social justice and equity. The students brainstormed on the reasons that some people get better health care than others. This discussion was eye-opening for many of the students who had a very narrow view of how health care is delivered and I received many comments from them such as, “I did not know that this was happening.” These comments both warmed my heart and broke it.

Just before my third and final lecture incorporating the “Nursing Around the World” slides, the unthinkable happened: The Coronavirus Pandemic began. School was closed and news was coming in almost hourly about the death toll. The students were frightened and felt isolated and unmoored. Although I had planned on discussing a different topic, I felt that I had to address how nurses here and around the world were handling this disaster. Showing students pictures of nurses enduring the most difficult situations that they had ever encountered while still persevering seemed to lift their spirits and mine.

This FLC became so much more to me in the past few months than I had anticipated due to the pandemic. I feel that the goal of exposing my nursing students to some new realities really had an impact on them that they will never forget. I am so grateful that I was in this FLC at this moment in time and I appreciate everyone who was a part of this amazing experience.

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