Left to right: Alexis Eliasen, Naomi Bjorlie, Chelsie Goebel, Stephanie Riesland, Diane Witzig, an Ecuadorian nurse, Sara Collins, Breanna Peterson, Ajolisse Lonzo, Dale Lester, Renae Schuch, and Sue Shelerud tour an Ecuadorian hospital. Local nursing students traveled to Ecuador last month as part of a Rochester Community and Technical College course to learn culturally competent care. The "transcultural nursing" study-abroad course is conducted through a partnership with Hands for Humanity. Two instructors and 20 nursing students from five Minnesota colleges traveled to Ecuador during the eight-day trip. Seven of the 20 nursing students were from RCTC, while another came from Winona. The remaining 12 students were from colleges in East Grand Forks, Worthington and Duluth. More than 100 students have participated in the program since it started. The goal of the course is to boost students' competence when caring for patients of different cultural backgrounds, said Kate Welp, founder and executive director of Hands for Humanity. Welp, a longtime Mayo Clinic nurse, started the course in collaboration with RCTC seven years ago. She said she wanted nursing students to experience another country's health care and gain appreciation for what they have. "I just thought … what a great way to start off a nursing career by seeing health care elsewhere than just Minnesota," Welp said.
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