Ohio University students and faculty are delivering these nursing books to Botswana as part of a three-week stay within the South African country.

Ohio University students and faculty are delivering these nursing books to Botswana as part of a three-week stay within the South African country.

Photographer: Gretchen Gregory

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OHIO students deliver books to Botswana, study healthcare

Students and faculty from Ohio University’s School of Nursing are helping students in Botswana by delivering dozens of books to the library where nursing students from the Institute of Health Sciences in Gaborone, Botswana often study.

“We visited their library and saw many empty shelves, so one year ago our students started collecting nursing text books they no longer needed for courses,” explained Deborah Henderson, director of OHIO’s School of Nursing. Henderson, who has visited Botswana twice, said soon after a delegation from OHIO visited the library, they sought to help fill the shelves.

“Students started turning in books if they didn’t need them, and faculty donated books too,” she said. “When we talked to the faculty in Botswana about books that they need, we told them we collected more than 300 nursing and text books, and they said they can use them all.”

Seven nursing students, five medical students, two premed students, two graduate students from communication and development are participating in the study abroad program, as well as nursing faculty member Eliza Harper and director of global health and associate professor in social medicine Gillian Ice of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. All will spend three weeks in Botswana starting on June 5, and each nursing student will take an extra suitcase filled with books to be delivered to the library.

While in the South African country, nursing students will visit hospitals and healthcare organizations to participate in clinical and global health experiences in Botswana. They will return home with knowledge of healthcare delivery systems and practices from another part of the world that will inform their future nursing careers.

“It will be interesting for our nursing students to compare and contrast the role of a nurse in Botswana,” Henderson explained, noting nurses are sometimes in remote areas and could be the only health professional for multiple miles. “They have more of a primary care model, where nurses in this country are usually in a more team setting unless they are an advanced practice registered nurse prepared at the masters or doctoral level."

The University has fostered a relationship with the country of Botswana since the 1960s, and several academic colleges have developed a presence there, including the Patton College of Education, College of Business, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

OHIO students will gain clinical experience at Princess Marina, a 537-bed government-owned hospital in the capital city of Goborone, Botswana, as well as a private hospital. “Our students will gain valuable nursing experience while working with our nursing faculty member and an Institute of Health Sciences Gaborone nursing faculty facilitator. This opportunity for students is a meaningful addition to their education,” Henderson said.

According to ICE, the project grew out of Ohio University's partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Institutes of Health Sciences. The work with the Institutes of Health Sciences is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief via the American International Health Alliance.