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Immersion with international nurses

Senior nursing students Aurora Vandewark (left) and Heather Yin attended ICN's Congress with Associate Dean and Professor Leslie Perry, PhD, RN.

In May of 2013 the International Council of Nurses (ICN) celebrated the 25th Quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, Australia. The ICN Congress is one of the largest international gatherings of nurses bringing together innovations and evidence-based practices from around the globe. The nearly week-long event, titled “Equity and Access to Health Care”, encompassed nurses from all continents who had the opportunity to meet and network with global nursing leaders. Villanova University was represented at the event by two senior nursing students Aurora Vandewark and Heather Yin, accompanied by Associate Dean and Professor Leslie Perry, PhD, RN.

The opening ceremonies of the Congress were “quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” describes Aurora, “Seeing ‘the parade of nations’ where nurses from all over the world proudly marched wearing the traditional attire from their home country was simply amazing.”

The "V" travels to Australia!

With few students at the event, the two seniors had a unique opportunity to get a more intimate understanding of global health initiatives from a culturally and ethnically diverse nursing population. Students learned about new ideas and practices in areas such as human rights, patient safety, care systems and economics as well as nursing education with an emphasis on the use and future use of technology in academics.

“The CEO of Jhpiego, Leslie Mancuso, PhD, RN, FAAN, spoke during a few sessions and challenged the nurses in the room to think of innovations that they have seen or performed during the course of their clinical work to improve their practice. This is just one example of how the Congress pushed me to become more forward-thinking and creative,” explains Heather on the impact of this experience.


Aside from networking with leaders from Jhpeigo and the National League of Nurses at the conference, the group also had the opportunity to travel two and half hours from Melbourne on their last day to visit a rural health service in Maryborough. The Maryborough District Health Service (MDHS) provides a number of services ranging from urgent care to palliative care to their impoverished community that is 3rd in the state for food insecurity but has the highest number of aged-care recipients.

With access to healthcare and cultural humility an ever-growing piece of the healthcare landscape, educational opportunities such as these are invaluable in helping our future nursing leaders to understand these barriers beyond their basic levels so that they may continue to help ignite change in providing nursing care at local and global levels.