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International visiting scholar at School of Nursing

(L-R) Dr. Judith McFetridge-Durdle, Yuan Hua, Dr. Patricia Benner and Dr. Caroline Porr at the 2011 Nursing Research Conference.

By Michelle Osmond

For the first time, the School of Nursing has an International Visiting Scholar Program. Since September, Yuan Hua (Catherine) has been studying, learning and sharing knowledge at Memorial University.

Yuan Hua, who is a PhD student and faculty member at Jilin University, Changchun, China, received a 12 month grant from China's State Scholarship Fund, a grant that is rarely given out.

Dr. Caroline Porr developed the visiting scholar program based on a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) training program for cardiovascular nurse scientists. This program is unique to the School of Nursing. In fact, it was designed specifically for Yuan Hua after Dr. McFetridge-Durdle met her in 2009 when she was invited to visit the School of Nursing at Jilin University by the director. Yuan Hua was her interpreter.

"We had a mutual research interest," explained Dr. McFedridge-Durdle. "Her interest is in interventions to reduce stress in individuals with cardiovascular disease and my research is on measuring the impacts of interventions that reduce stress so it was a good fit."

In addition to knowledge exchange about cardiovascular patient care and nursing education, the goal of the program is to contribute to the development of the scholar as a well-rounded cardiovascular nurse scientist. This is achieved through coursework and activities with cardiovascular patients and their caregivers.

So far, Yuan Hua likes Newfoundland very much and feels privileged to be the first visiting scholar in the new program.

"I chose to come here because not only I could learn something for my own career development, but also I could help my school to create more future collaboration opportunities with the School of Nursing," she said.

"Catherine is auditing courses, so she'll engage with students and expose our students to her as well," said Dr. McFetridge-Durdle. "She's here to learn about how we teach and to get research training, especially qualitative analysis research experience, from Dr. Porr. We're hopeful she'll be able to observe what the emergency room looks like, what's it like to be in the Intensive Care Unit, and what it's like to be a cardiac patient here, as well."

"During the 12 months I want to acquire new pedagogic approaches for nursing education and gain hands-on research experience, advance my research skills and build my knowledge-base in cardiovascular patient care," said Yuan Hua. "I am happy to be here to share Chinese culture and Chinese medical and nursing philosophy and perspectives. I am sure what I have learned here today will benefit my country, my school, my students and also myself in the future."

Memorial and Jilin University, the largest university in China, have a memorandum of understanding. Dr. McFetridge-Durdle says something they'll consider in the future is a Memorial student visiting China as they have a master's of nursing program with a focus on research.