KOKOMO, Ind. — As a nursing student, Lindsey Abell must learn to care for her patients’ cultural needs, in addition to their medical needs.
Indiana University Kokomo provides that education, through a partnership with South Korea’s Jesus University and Sungshin Women’s University. Ten students and two faculty members visited campus from February 5 to 18.
Linda Wallace, dean of the School of Nursing, said going overseas prepares students to work in an increasingly global society because they will know how to interact with people of many cultures and backgrounds.
“Most of us would do well to go to a country where we don’t know the language, and have to presume on the kindness of others,” Wallace said. “It is a humbling and empowering experience to learn about ourselves and become a better person. As nurses, we offer better care when we understand and appreciate other cultures.”
During their two-week stay, the South Korean students visited hospitals where IU Kokomo students do their clinicals, cheered for the Cougars at a basketball game, toured Kokomo Opalescent Glass, sat in on nursing classes, and had a Thanksgiving dinner at Wallace’s home.
IU Kokomo nursing student Katie Sicking said while there are cultural differences between themselves and the South Korean students, they’ve learned there are many similarities in how they prepare for nursing careers. She said one of her first lessons was that a nurse must be culturally sensitive, and meeting the overseas students was an opportunity to learn first-hand.
“This way, when we’re in the hospital setting, we’ll be better adapted to help our patients,” she said.
Hyeong Ju, one of the visiting students from Jesus University, was impressed with IU Kokomo’s nursing simulation lab. He was excited to see the American medical system up close.
Boksun Yang, Ph.D., a nursing faculty member from Jesus University, Jeonju, South Korea, said the experience is good for the visiting students because “they are challenged to learn more English, and they are exposed to another culture.”
The exchange program is made possible by a grant from Dr. Se-Ung Lee, a South Korean businessman and philanthropist. The original grant, given in the year 2000, was for nursing students. Lee gave scholarship money in 2011 and 2012 for IU Kokomo students and faculty go to South Korea.
Wallace began the faculty exchange program in 2000, then expanded it to include nursing students in 2003. Twenty-four IU Kokomo students have gone to South Korea, and 75 South Korean students have come to IU Kokomo. Sungshin University joined the program in 2011, giving an opportunity to students outside the nursing program to participate.
Abell said meeting the visitors “gives me a better perspective on a different culture, and how we address their cultural needs in a medical setting. Culture is a big aspect of the nursing field. We need to have diverse cultural experiences so we can be the best nurses we can be.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.