5 Lessons Learned from Nursing Abroad

As she embarked on a Global Health Education Program trip to Brazil, Chamberlain College of Nursing student Kathier Dang eagerly anticipated helping and caring for patients in need. On her return to the U.S., what she found was that the people she had met had also profoundly changed her – in ways both big and small. 

“I stepped outside of my comfort zone and learned more about myself while being away from home,” she said. “I've learned to be more aware of every situation, go with my instinct and to trust myself. But most of all, I learned that I can adjust and adapt to different surroundings.”

Dang, a 3-Year Bachelor of Science in Nursing student on the Chicago campus, recently shared five of the key lessons she learned from the experience: 

1. Be a Team Player

Working with nurses from different walks of life is just as much a part of the job as learning the customs of the new country you’re traveling to. One of the chief lessons Dang learned on the trip? How to be a team player.  

“Our group was so diverse that it made me realize that sometimes I can't ALWAYS be a leader,” Dang said “Instead, I have to step back and go with the flow. I've learned that I can work with all types of different personalities and be more accepting of other's viewpoints.”

2. Be Open to Every Experience

"My main goal when I was in Brazil was to experience everything,” Dang said. “I took every opportunity given to me and went with my instinct. In order to soak up every aspect of this experience, I knew I had to step up to the plate in every opportunity I got and simply just put myself out there to learn from others and not be afraid.”

Dang has always known she wants to work in pediatrics. But while abroad she had the chance to work with geriatrics, a specialty she had never considered. As she helped an elderly patient to the bathroom, Dang smiled and inquired about the patient and her life.

“Towards the middle of our conversation, the patient told the translator that I have the brightest smile and it’s so big it can light up the room,” she said. “That was one of my favorite moments.”


3. Be Confident

Dang initially struggled with the language barrier between herself and her patients, but quickly put her doubts aside in order to get the job done.

“I kind of felt intimidated at first,” she said. “I didn’t want to make a fool of myself but I learned that I need to step out of my comfort zone and just go with the flow.”

As a result of her willingness to dive head first into a new situation, Dang not only became more confident herself but others noticed the difference.

“During the one-on-one evaluation at the end of the trip, my instructor told me I am more confident, she can see it!” Dang said. “I’m more confident in everything I do and I trust myself more. I think that’s one of the most important things as a nurse, you need to be confident.”


4. Improvise Where Needed

The Global Health Education Program does more than test your current skills. It also forces you to improvise and strengthen yourself as a nurse, Dang says.

While caring for one patient, she needed to place EKG leads on them, a skill she had previously practiced on a mannequin in the SIMCARE CenterTM.  However, when it didn’t work as planned, she had to find tape at the hospital to make it work.

“We had to be more creative with everything,” she said. “I feel like that’s important because not every hospital is going to have everything you need.”


5. A Small Act Can Make a Big Difference 

During a day spent working with children and teaching them about hygiene and personal care, Chamberlain students also gave the children something to color with and it brightened their entire day.

“We handed out stickers and art supplies and I didn’t know that one sheet of coloring paper could make their day,” she said. “Just one sheet of paper to color on.”

Feeling inspired by Kathier and all she experienced on her trip to Brazil? Learn more about the 
Global Health Education Program at the Chamberlain College of Nursing here

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program can be found at www.chamberlain.edu/bsndisclosure

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