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Release: Aug. 23, 1999

UI nursing students study abroad in Jamaica

NOTE EDITORS: Receipt of this release indicates that a University of Iowa student from your area participated in the UI College of Nursing's study abroad program this summer; a list of participants follows at the end of this release.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Delivering babies and drawing blood are hard enough skills for nursing students to master, but doing so in a foreign culture without modern equipment was especially challenging for 11 University of Iowa students who visited Jamaica this summer as part of the UI College of Nursing's study abroad program.

(Student name) of (hometown) was one of the 11 students who took part in the study abroad program.

The students and their faculty advisor, Nicollet Markovetz, a certified nurse midwife and lecturer in the college, spent three weeks visiting St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica's poorest region, located in the southeast corner of the Caribbean nation.

"I have realized how important it is to care for people of different cultures and learn to work with them," said Carolyn Eaton, a recent graduate of the nursing college from West Des Moines.

Markovetz and the 11 students stayed in the nurses' quarters of the parish's Princess Margaret Hospital. The Jamaicans openly shared their space and living quarters, which had no air conditioning, hot water or window screens. In return, the Iowa group took diapers, children's clothing and textbooks to the hospital.

The students worked in all of the hospital's major units, rotating through the maternity ward, pediatric unit, emergency room, surgical unit, male and female wards, and clinics. They also accompanied nurses making home visits in the community.

Coming from a medical environment where sterile conditions reign and technology is quickly embraced, the students quickly learned how to make do with the tools and working environment that were available at Princess Margaret Hospital. After working in units without sophisticated equipment, it surprised them to realize that technology is not always necessary, Eaton said. She found it amazing to see what the Jamaicans could do with so little.

"The United States is 23rd in infant mortality rate among industrialized nations," Markovetz noted. "We are not the best, and we should have open minds so we can learn from everyone, even Third World countries."

Senior nursing student Jesse Bueno of Muscatine remembers dressing wounds and burns, assisting in the operating room, and drawing blood with needles much bigger than those used in the United States. He found the Jamaican people to be patient and giving, and enjoyed talking with them about their lives. "I am a better person now seeing what it's like in a different culture," he said.

Jamaica's beauty lies deeper than the attractions sought by tourists, Bueno said. Returning to the parish and hospital after weekend excursions to resorts in Port Antonio and Ocho Rios, Bueno "felt mad because the resorts seem so fake as to what Jamaica is really like," he said. "You don't see the other side."

The following individuals, listed by hometown, participated in the College of Nursing's study abroad program:


ALGONA: Jill M. Miller

CEDAR RAPIDS: Carrie L. Krumholz

CRESTON: Jamie H. Johnson

IOWA CITY: Maggie Jo Fransen

MUSCATINE: Jesse G. Bueno

SHEFFIELD: Nicollet A. Markovetz (Faculty Advisor)

SIOUX CITY: Jeanne M. Noltze

WEST DES MOINES: Carolyn L. Eaton


LITTLETON: Natalie Kim Leddin


FREEPORT: Amanda C. Smith

JOLIET: Michelle M. Hakey


DELAWARE: Heather D. McElvain