A group of 11 Bachelor of Science in Nursing students spent two weeks in Ukraine this summer.

Where in the world … Ternopil

October 4, 2019 | Health, Society

For the second year running, MacEwan University Bachelor of Science in Nursing students travelled to Ukraine to learn alongside nursing students at the Ternopil State Medical University, where faculty members from both universities teach lectures as part of HLST 400: Global Health Perspectives.

This year, the course was framed around the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, specifically focusing on migration – appropriate given that we live in an era with an unprecedented number of people on the move, either voluntarily or involuntarily, says Dr. Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto, who taught HLST 400 with Yvonne Shelast. Both are assistant professors in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Conversations about how education, politics, housing and transportation impact people’s health were informed by the students’ experiences of life in Canada, Ukraine and Nigeria (several international nursing students from Nigeria who were studying in Ukraine also took part in the course). Those perspectives were incredibly valuable, says Candace Haspeck, a third-year nursing student.

“What stood out to me was that everyone, no matter where we live, has the same goal – healthy communities,” says Candace. “I think it helped to restore my faith in humanity to see that we all care and want the same thing and that we just go about it a bit differently.”

Comparing systems in a middle-income country like Ukraine with Canada is part of a larger focus on planetary health and well-being, says Elizabeth.

“The idea is to give students an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary perspective on health understanding to develop their capacity as global citizens,” she explains. “One aspect of doing that is creating space for different ways of knowing and being, and how these enhance health and well-being.”

Tanner Watmough, also a MacEwan nursing student, so appreciated the experiences, hospitality and compassion the Ukrainian and Nigerian students shared that he decided to give two small education grants to one student from each group.

“It’s not something a broke university student typically does,” he says. “Spending time with people from other countries who have different experiences to share and hearing about the challenges they face made me realize that you can do a lot more to help than you think. It just felt like the right thing to do.”

Here are some photos from their time in Ukraine:

HLST 400 began with a week in Lviv where they took language classes at the Ukrainian Catholic University, experienced the culture and visited health facilities including a rehabilitation centre and pediatric hospitals.
Candace in the “heart” of Ternopil.
Students volunteer at an outdoor blood pressure clinic in downtown Ternopil.
Students tour a pharmacy museum in Lviv.
Students receive their certificates for completing a language program at the Ukrainian Catholic University.


Nursing student on receiving – and giving – while studying in Ukraine

"I always wanted to give back ... but I thought I'd need to have a lot of money to do it."

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