Child Life in South Africa takes students to Cape Town’s Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. Here, Kelsey Alfred, an OHIO undergraduate in child and family studies, works with a young patient in 2011. The next trip takes place in summer 2013.

Photo courtesy of: Jenny Chabot


The weeklong spring break program Global Public Health in London enables students to fulfill a tier III requirement while they study issues such as water control, food safety, hygiene and pollution.

Photo courtesy of: Tim Ryan


During the study-abroad trip Global Public Health in Costa Rica, held during winter break, students explore public health, sustainability, tourism and waterborne diseases.

Photo courtesy of: Tim Ryan

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CHSP grows global as students gain valuable skills and experiences

Students grow and learn about their fields for four years in the classroom, but they also have the option to study on the beaches of Costa Rica or in the hospitals of London and South Africa.
All three destinations are study-abroad opportunities offered through the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP), each reinforcing the college's focus on educating students to embrace and understand diversity, promote interdisciplinary learning and engage in global health.

And the college is working to develop even more of these opportunities, said CHSP Dean Randy Leite.

"We want to make sure students understand people who are different than they are, because when they start working, they will be working with different populations," Leite said.

For now, faculty members in CHSP lead four trips abroad. Most participants are CHSP students, but occasionally majors from other colleges travel along. The programs are Global Public Health in London and Costa Rica; Nursing in London; and Child Life in South Africa.

Tim Ryan, associate professor of environmental health and industrial hygiene, created the Global Public Health in London program in 2006, and he has led it annually ever since. During the weeklong spring break program, students fulfill a tier III requirement while they study what the United Kingdom is doing in terms of public health, including water control, food safety, hygiene and pollution of all types.

"The topic, public health, is practiced everywhere," Ryan said. "Anywhere you have people, you have people problems."

With the continual success of the London program, Ryan added a trip to Costa Rica. There, students explore the same issues of public health, with the addition of sustainability, tourism and waterborne diseases. They will also have the chance to scuba dive, hike and shop during visits to Quepos, San Jose, and Corcovado National Park on the South Pacific coast.

These study-abroad trips not only help build more global and diverse perspectives, they can also be a huge boost to a student's career, adding hands-on experience to the skill set.

This is certainly true for students on the Child Life in South Africa trip, a four-week program in Cape Town that goes every other year. The trip, created and led by Jenny Chabot, associate professor of child and family studies, is open to students in the Child Life Concentration within the Child and Family Studies program. Child life specialists work to ease the stress of hospitalization for children and families.

Chabot sees the trip as an opportunity for students to boost their careers in a competitive field and gain a perspective outside the typical U.S. children's hospital experience.

"(Students) realize what they're able to do with very little resources, and they realize how universal the stress of hospitalization can be," Chabot said.

Students on the South Africa trip will complete journals, case studies, and at least 113 hours at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town during the next trip in summer 2013.

"(The students) really walk away with a strong understanding of what it means to be a part of an interdisciplinary team," Chabot said.

Leite cites these experiences as helping the students be more sensitive to specific and diverse needs, a quality that will help them in their future professions.

This could hold particularly true for the college's future registered nurses, who will have the opportunity for the first time to attend a University-run study abroad program during spring break 2013.

"This program will allow the students to learn differences in health care," said Terri Hood-Brown, assistant professor of nursing and faculty adviser for the trip. "We can present cultural competence in class, but the actual experience will build a foundation in the student's mind."

Students on the Nursing in London trip will complete a clinical experience at a hospital in London, participate in a lecture on the differences between health care in the United Kingdom and the United States, and visit various clinics to complete a two-credit nursing elective.

Hood-Brown said she hopes the trip opens students' eyes to the needs, attributes and differences of other cultures.

"If we all stay inside our box, our culture zone, our learning and service will be limited," she said. "If you ask any student that has participated in a study-abroad program or mission trip, you will see and hear an individual that has grown both intellectually and personally."

Click here for information about the Nursing in London trip or the Global Health Costa Rica trip. Information about the Child Life in South Africa and Global Health London trips will be posted on the OHIO Education Abroad website.

Gina Mussio is a student writer for Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions.