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Local Nurses Do Global Good
Johns Hopkins nursing’s international presence grows.

blank Megan Quick
  Transport nurse Megan Quick has travelled the globe to share her nursing skills with those in need.

Florence Nightingale—often dubbed the founder of global nursing—once said that a nurse’s feelings should be distilled into action. Today, Hopkins nurses are following in her footsteps, and like Nightingale, they’re doing so around the world.

A visit to any unit across the hospital is likely to turn up at least one nurse who’s volunteered in South Africa, Peru, Ethiopia, Columbia or some other country with a large population of medically underserved people. So it made sense when the Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Nursing decided to join the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health and sponsor its mission to improve global health conditions by 2020. In fact, Hopkins has a significant international nursing presence, both abroad and stateside, and as a result of their foreign experiences, nurses here bring a world of cultural knowledge to the floor.

“As nurses working in a hospital setting, I think it is very easy for us to become insular in our profession,” says Jane Shivnan, executive director of Hopkins’ Center for Global Nursing, which facilitates foreign nurses’ educational trips to Hopkins, as well as sends Hopkins nurses to teach overseas. The consequences of such limitations, she says, can be a lack of understanding of patients of different backgrounds, whose different cultures or ethnicities result in unfamiliar treatment needs. “Fortunately, we have many opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills and enrich our practice through global nursing.”

The chances for nurses to work overseas are numerous, especially at Hopkins, where the Center for Global Nursing works with both nurses from other countries who want to visit and learn from U.S. hospitals, and with its own nurses, who may wish to lend their skills abroad. In either case, Shivnan says, nurses can learn much from each other. “Recognizing that nurses around the world face similar issues and concerns as well as different challenges,” she says, “places a mirror in front of us and gives us ideas for better ways of caring for patients and understanding our patients and global health issues.”

Transport nurse Megan Quick knows firsthand how valuable global nursing experiences can be at home. After nine trips to other countries, including Morocco, Vietnam and Kenya, she says foreign nursing has significantly shaped her practice at Hopkins. Learning to navigate around cultural barriers—such as not knowing the native language or being familiar with rules of etiquette—helps her to be more resourceful and mindful of the different beliefs and values of patients everywhere. “If I can go into places where I don’t speak the language,” she explains, “and still be resourceful enough to provide good care, I think it just makes me a stronger nurse.”

— Lauren Manfuso



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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