The lure of turquoise waters, swimming pigs, delicious food and Junkanoo bring more than 7 million visitors to Bahama each year. Thanks to the generosity of people who recognize the power of philanthropy, a group of UCF College of Nursing students recently experienced a small taste of the touristy side of the island nation, but they were at the University of the Bahamas for a very serious purpose: a focus on global collaborative healthcare simulation.
Over spring break this past March, twelve graduate and undergraduate students were selected for the Global Learning in Healthcare Simulation program that was funded partly or completely by scholarships. The partnership with UB began when public health expert and nursing faculty member Jascinth Lindo received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to the Bahamas in 2021.
Healthcare providers in The Bahamas typically care for diverse patient populations, including natives, tourists from around the world, and those who live in the Bahamas but also have other citizenship. It was a great way to allow our students to glimpse a different system of healthcare.
“The study-abroad trip to the Bahamas was awe-inspiring, to say the least,” says Louis Davis, a senior in the CON program. Davis, a graduate of Jones High School in Orlando, also said that being able to exchange experiences and knowledge with the UB nursing students was extremely important for his clinical development.
“As we toured the hospital,” Davis says, “We learned about the toll that COVID-19 took on them, yet they continued doing all they could to provide the best possible care for their patients.”
Davis, along with the other students on the trip, collaborated with the UB students and faculty on simulation demonstrations they had learned in the simulation learning labs at UCF.
As the only simulation labs in Florida endorsed by the International Nursing Association of Clinical and Simulation Learning, and fully accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, the simulation labs are a realistic, yet safe and controlled way to foster student learning, skills development and innovative research with the goal of improving patient safety and outcomes.
Vandolyn McIntosh is earning a graduate professional certification in CON’s online Nursing Health Care Simulation program. For her, the experience was full circle; she is a graduate of the Bahamas School of Nursing and worked at a hospital there for 18 years before moving to the U.S. in 2004.
“The study-abroad trip to the Bahamas was an incredible experience. It is where the foundation of my nursing career was laid and the opportunity to return so many years later was truly fulfilling,” McIntosh says.
McIntosh says she was grateful for not only the openness and easy camaraderie between her group and the UB students and faculty, but also for the ease and eagerness with which they collaborated.
“We gained some insight into where the UB students were on their educational journey, some challenges they faced, and shared what we encountered in ours,” McIntosh says.
One of the best parts of the study-abroad trip was the opportunity for the UCF students to compare healthcare delivery and scope of practice between the United States and The Bahamas.
In The Bahamas, the government supervises and administers the healthcare system; pregnant women, children, civil servants and senior citizens have access to free healthcare; regardless of one’s ability to pay, access to public healthcare services is often free of charge.
And despite the often-grueling work the Bahamian healthcare workers do each day, they were so welcoming to our UCF Knights!
“The UB students taught us their college mascot song,” McIntosh says. “Our initial attempt to sing along was hilarious; it served as kind of an ice breaker for when we began to collaborate on creating and implementing simulation exercises. We all learned a lot, and also had fun working together.”
“It allowed me not only to appreciate what tools we have available in the US but also to develop a greater love for healthcare,” Davis says. “This experience will be used as encouragement as I not only continue in school but beyond that.”
Krysten Hysler came to the nursing profession a little later in life after working as a bartender for 18 years. As she was at her father’s bedside in an ICU a few years ago, she paid close attention to the skill, compassion and professionalism of the nurses who cared for him. She knew this was her next career move.
When Hysler was accepted into UCF’s accelerated Second Degree program for nursing students, she thought back to her first bachelor degree, and how she had wanted to study abroad. She couldn’t afford it at the time, and had regretted the missed experiences for nearly two decades.
“Before we embarked on the trip,” Hysler says, “We learned the theory and background information about simulation. Although I had some previous experience with simulation during my Second-Degree BSN program at UCF, reading about the theory and guidelines for using it in clinical practice filled in some gaps in my knowledge.”
Hysler was prepared for the experience, but the collaboration with students in her co-hort, as well as the UB students and faculty, really opened her eyes to the possibilities of healthcare simulation.
“Watching our graduate classmates run simulations and using the experience to work out parts that needed more clarity or fine-tuning was something we could not have accomplished online or in a classroom,” Hysler says. “We needed the hands-on interaction and everyone’s life and clinical experience to fully comprehend it.”
As McIntosh reflected on her trip (back) to the Bahamas, she said, “I think this trip has served to encourage reflection on not only us and our immediate surrounding but also globally and how we are impacted by and can impact each other.”
Hysler had similar thoughts. “I am incredibly grateful to everyone who made it possible for me and my prenursing, nursing, and graduate nursing classmates to participate. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, collaborative experience that I will never forget.”