The Wonders of India: Strengthening Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Cultural Sensitivity through a Study Abroad Experience

May 2013 - India - UIW Nursing and Pharmacy

A group of 24 pharmacy, nursing, and undergraduate students and faculty returned from a nearly two-week study abroad experience in India during May 2013. Fourteen students and three faculty (Dr. Rebecca Attridge, Dr. Russell Attridge, and Dr. David Maize) were from the Feik School of Pharmacy. The trip allowed participants to experience the rich culture of India through educational sightseeing, religious sites, and day-to-day interactions with the people of India.

Since all students are training for healthcare careers (most non-pharmacy students were from the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions), the trip had a healthcare theme and the group visited pharmacy/nursing schools, hospitals, a rural medical clinic, and alternative medical treatment centers that are less common in the U.S. (naturopathy, Ayurveda). Students took an elective course in the spring semester to prepare for the trip; presentations and discussion boards focused on cultural traditions, educational systems, political/social happenings, and healthcare practices provided a background and frame of reference for everyone (all first-timers to India!).  

The elective course and travels in India accomplished two important objectives. First, pharmacy, nursing, and healthcare-interested undergraduate students developed interdisciplinary friendships and understandings that can be used throughout their schooling and careers. Second, we gained a better understanding of Indian culture and healthcare so we are able to improve care, communication, and understanding with a more diverse group of patients.