School of Nursing and Health Sciences (SONHS) students at Saint Xavier University (SXU) have the unique opportunity to travel to the University of Florence in Florence, Italy as a part of a collaborative partnership between University of Florence at SXU. The partnership, four-year, renewable agreement of cultural and scientific cooperation, allows SONHS students to visit Italy to compare issues surrounding health and cognitive needs for pediatric patients, while also comparing nursing education from each country’s point of view.
Professor and associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs, Zepure Samawi, Ph.D., has taught corresponding coursework each time the trip is offered, along with former associate dean Mary Haras, Ph.D., and interim dean of the graduate nursing program, Michele Poradzisz, Ph.D. The program has been so successful that it has been offered in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and will be open to students again in during the fall 2018 semester, when Samawi will teach the course with the assistance of Barb Gawron, DNP.
“During the travel portion of the course,” Samawi explains, “Students are asked to identify historical landmarks and works of art representative of the periods studied; incorporate vocabulary and phrases in their interactions with Italian nurses, nursing students and patients; and reflect on the influences of history on shaping Italian health care.”
The well-rounded course allows for not only health care teachings, but also history, religious studies and art. In addition to visiting Florence’s Meyer Children’s Hospital, students visit several areas of historical significance in Italy in order to put their newfound skills to use. By visiting historical landmarks and seeing works of art first-hand, students become fully immersed in the Italian culture and can relate their experiences to their coursework in nursing, as well as life in the United States.
“It is important for SXU nursing students to appreciate the rich religious, historical and architectural influences of Italian culture on today’s arts and sciences, religion and architecture in the U.S.” said Samawi.
After the 2018 fall semester trip to Italy, SONHS is offering another study abroad course to Ireland for the 2019 spring semester.