Nursing students from two South Korean universities, and from Indiana University Kokomo, learn from each other during exchanges between the two countries. Ten students and two faculty members from Sungshin Women's University and Jesus University arrived Sunday, February 4, for a two-week visit.
In the spring, a group of IU Kokomo students and faculty will return the visit, to learn about the culture and health care systems in South Korea.
During their time here, the South Korean students participated in nursing lab exercises with IU Kokomo students, sharing techniques they've learned for patient care.
Morgan McCall, Logansport, said it was interesting to see how many things they've learned the same way, and the small differences as well. The Korean students take temperatures with a thermometer that goes in the ear, rather than one used on the temples, which she uses.
"Medicine is universal, but there are some interesting differences," she said. "There are some cultural differences in medicine as well, and visiting with these students reminds us that not all of our patients will share our culture. It's a necessity to bring culture into the nursing field, so you can be sensitive to your patients' needs."
Students from both countries bonded over their shared experience of nursing school, Amanda Roberts, from Tipton, said.
"I asked if nursing school is stressful for them, and they said yes," she said. "We talked about what kind of nurses we want to be, and we have the same kind of goals. We found out we have a lot in common."
In addition to visiting nursing classes, the South Korean students joined Spanish and fine arts classes. They also toured Kokomo Opalescent Glass, visited the Logansport carousel, participated in nursing clinical rotations at area hospitals, attended a concert at The Palladium in Carmel, cheered at a Cougar basketball game, and exercised in the campus' Cole Fitness Center.
Woo Hee Sim, a student at Seoul's Sungshin University, encouraged the IU Kokomo students to take part in the upcoming trip to South Korea, to have the same kind of cultural experience she and her classmates have had in the United States.
"You really have to open your mind, and experience the differences in another country," Sim said. "This prepares you to meet people from other cultures, and to learn that despite our differences, we are the same in our hearts. So many people have been so welcoming to us, and I'm sure it will be the same when IU Kokomo students visit us."
Sim will return home with renewed commitment to her desire to be a nurse.
"I'm more engaged and inspired to be a nurse," she said. "I feel deeply its something you can do to help people, no matter where you are. I'm learning to do something not a lot of people can do."
It's a learning experience for both the Hoosier and Korean students, according to Linda Wallace, who initiated the program in 2000 with a faculty exchange.
"It is humbling and empowering to travel where you don't know the language well, or at all, and have to presume on the kindness of others," she said. "You come home with a better appreciation of the people from another country, and an understanding that not all of your patients share your background. When you treat people who are not of your culture, you need to be aware they may have cultural needs in addition to medical needs, and should know how to provide complete care for them."
Sohye Kim, visiting from Jesus University, in Jeonju, wanted to see how the U.S. health care system compares to that in her home country. She was impressed with many aspects of the hospitals she toured, and surprised by how much work goes into handling patient health insurance needs.
She did not find one country's health care system better than the other — just different. She looks forward to showing IU Kokomo students her country's system.
"It was interesting to get a different perspective on health care," she said.
IU Kokomo has a long relationship with the two universities, hosting about a dozen students and faculty each winter, and taking students to visit most summers. More than 30 students have traveled to South Korea since 2003.
Shirley Aamidor, associate dean of the School of Education, is teaching at Sungshin University this school year, and Sung Ja Whang, a retired professor from Jesus University, is a visiting lecturer in the School of Nursing.
Dr. Se-Ung Lee, a South Korean businessman and philanthropist, has supported the program for 14 years with grant funding.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.