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International Experience in Ireland

December 8, 2015

As part of an ongoing global initiative experience, 14 students and 2 faculty members – Barbara Amendolia, DRNP, assistant clinical professor in the Division of Undergraduate Nursing, and Kathleen Fisher, PhD, professor of Doctoral Nursing Programs --traveled to Ireland from Philadelphia International Airport to learn about nursing education, clinical practice, nursing research and service learning in Ireland and experience the culture in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Students not only learned about evidence-based practice, but they got hands-on experience with research at the 16th Healthcare Interdisciplinary Research Conference and Student Colloquium. 
“Attending an international conference generated a broader career vision for the students,” said Barbara Amendolia, DRNP, assistant clinical professor in the Division of Undergraduate Nursing. “This is critically important, as we have a significant faculty shortage which limits enrollment, while the need for nurses to replace an aging workforce exists.”
This year’s trip included additional visits to Belfast and Galway.  In Belfast, students learned about the on-going struggles in Northern Ireland, based on deeply held distrust and hatred of two groups, where in spite of the “Peace Wall,” neighborhoods continue to be locked and individuals verbalize the places that remain off limits because of religious differences. Students also learned of the turbulent history and “troubles” of this area during a “black taxi” tour that offered a firsthand account by the tour guides. The tour included a stop at the Freedom Wall and an opportunity for students to sign their names, the site of the Titanic building, and a tour of the Crumlin Road Jail.
At the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUIG), service learning was identified through Case Western students who were conducting prenatal care research with Irish “travelers” who are described as gypsies. They also enjoyed a visit to the Cliffs of Moher and a drive beside the Wild Atlantic Way (including a stop along the Atlantic Edge Ocean Walk).  Students then traveled by train to Dublin to meet with a group of nurses and a physician from the Children’s University Hospital on Temple Street. Founded in 1872, the hospital has grown from 8 beds to 173 and serves over 145,000 of Ireland’s sickest children each year. 
“We were divided into two smaller groups and the nurse guided us through some of the units in the hospital. Students were fascinated to see the differences in this children’s hospital compared to the United States as many of them had completed clinical rotations at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s,” said Amendolia.
During the 16th Healthcare Interdisciplinary Research Conference and Student Colloquium, students saw nursing research presented and discussed and listened to some very interesting keynote speakers on general nursing topics and specialties including women’s health & midwifery, mental health, pediatrics and intellectual disability. 
“We were also treated to a private tour of Trinity College, which was followed by a reception in the Long Room in the Library at Trinity,” said Amendolia. Trinity’s Library began with the founding of the college in 1592 and is the largest library in Ireland.  It houses rare books, one of three surviving medieval Gaelic harps (Ireland’s national symbol) and the Book of Kells.  “We were fortunate to hear a lecture on the Book of Kells by the library docent as part of the research conference,”Amendolia added.  The Book of Kells includes illuminated gospel scripture in Latin and is believed to have been written in the year 800 AD. 
The trip concluded with a 2-day bus trip to various points of interest, including Kilmainham prison, Dublin Castle, Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery and St Patrick’s Cathedral.  Attendees also enjoyed traditional Irish meals with traditional Celtic dancing.