Spring Break Trip Sparks Further Collaboration with China

During the past three years, students and faculty from the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CONHP) have traveled to China, extending their service beyond the University, immersing themselves in Chinese culture and history, and observing the Chinese healthcare system and traditional Chinese medicine. This March, the trip was led by Zheng Li, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of health science, and Karen Allen, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, who had an additional purpose for the trip — to explore potential collaborations between Valpo’s CONHP and two Chinese hospitals.

“Collaboration with China will attract Chinese nurses and scholars to our University in furtherance of the mission of the University to build a diverse and inclusive community,” Professor Li says. “And, it will serve to increase the impact of Valparaiso University in the global community.”

Valpo hopes to collaborate with the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine and Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, two hospitals in Hangzhou with which the CONHP, through their annual Spring Break trip, has already forged relationships. In meeting with hospital leaders, it became clear that extending these relationships by increasing collaboration would prove beneficial for all involved.

This consultation identified specific areas of collaboration, including the creation of a short-term exchange program, providing Valpo students the opportunity to travel to China to observe nursing practice and conduct nursing research with doctors at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhenjiang University and Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital. China’s population will expose Valpo students to a vast number of cases amongst diverse communities. Valpo students will sharpen their nursing skills and become more sensitive to cultural diversity.

“As a DNP-prepared nurse practitioner, our focus is providing the best evidence-based care for our patients,” Joan Caito ’18 DNP says. “The opportunity to learn about and participate in new procedures abroad in China, where there are fewer restrictions on new procedures and technology advancements that surpass those in the U.S., would be helpful evidence-based knowledge to bring back to the U.S. healthcare system.”

As part of the international student exchange program, Valpo would welcome Chinese students and nurses to pursue their education at Valpo. Chinese leaders expressed marked interest in enrolling their nurses in Valpo’s DNP program, where they can advance their careers, become involved in nursing research, and gain global perspective on healthcare and nursing practice. The potential remains for Chinese students to obtain a Valpo degree in any number of Valpo’s programs of distinction, with discussions also surrounding Valpo’s undergraduate nursing, master of nursing, and master of health administration programs.

“The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Valpo has a long history of training and providing great education for nurses,” Professor Li says. “From our Spring Break trip, they have gotten to know us, our reputation, and our expertise. So it’s no wonder they want to come to Valpo.”

The Chinese leaders also expressed interest in collaborating with Valpo faculty on research. Having a foreign expert on the research team will only serve to increase the influence of the research in the global community. Since the meeting, lists outlining current areas of interest and expertise have been exchanged — the hope is to launch a joint research program for Chinese and American scholars.

“We are so excited to see this opportunity,” Professor Li says. “Not only are we interested in collaborating with them, they are interested to come to Valpo to see what we have to offer. It’s mutual.”