Hand holding a globe.

Finding New Ways to Connect: Global Program Goes Virtual for Now

September 21, 2021

Associate Professor Jennifer Dohrn, DNP '05, and her colleagues held a five-week virtual version of their Global Health Student Clinical Experiences Program this spring, with 10 site partners primarily from across the Global South and 44 Columbia Nursing students participating. The program kicked off on May 4, 2021.  

Launched in 2014 through the Office of Global Initiatives (OGI), this program offers MDE students six weeks of clinical experience with nursing partners around the world. The program seeks to immerse students in learning from nurses in countries with other health systems and differing amounts of resources how they manage health promotion and treatment for their communities. “It provides a deeper understanding of what global health equity means on a daily basis and the responsibility of the nursing profession to be part of addressing disparities,” said Dohrn, who is assistant dean of OGI.  

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, OGI understands that equity is more important than ever to Columbia Nursing’s commitment to providing the highest quality of nursing education, and that travel restrictions and closures should not be a deterrent to expanding collaboration and learning, according to Dohrn. “The pandemic again demonstrated to us that what affects one country affects another, and that we must fully engage and respond with our knowledge, energy, and resources,” she said.

By working closely with colleagues in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jordan, Malawi, Italy, Nepal, China, Israel, and The Gambia, Dohrn and her team were able to offer students who had signed on for the program for spring 2021 the opportunity to participate virtually while completing their clinical experiences in New York State.

View our website for more details, including an introduction to the program from Dohrn and video presentations for each project on topics ranging from traditional Chinese medicine approaches to prevention and management of major chronic conditions to presentations of infectious disease information for use in prisons in Malawi:

2021 Global Student Clinical Experience

The unprecedented level of communication among Columbia Nursing and site leaders that was required to develop and execute the virtual program strengthened this network of relationships, Dohrn said. “We’ve come out of this with students having learned so much about these sites and it’s opened up many other possibilities going forward besides in-person work,” she adds. “It has expanded the possibilities for research and development of curriculum that could be done combining both in-country and virtual work. We welcome these new opportunities.”