Eight nursing students from the Universidad Autonoma de Tamualipas (UAT) spent the week, Nov. 3-8, at The University of Texas-Pan American as part of a partnership between the universities to help create better academic opportunities on both sides of the border.
This first-time endeavor at a student exchange between the schools paired eight UAT students, accompanied by a UAT faculty member, with eight UTPA nursing students. The exchange project was directed, organized and coordinated by Mary Ramirez Evans, MSN, RN, lab coordinator/lecturer in the Department of Nursing.
"One of the goals of the UTPA nursing program is for the students to develop cultural competence and global awareness," said Dr. Carolina Huerta, professor and chair of the UTPA Nursing Department.
She said the objectives of the exchange program for UAT and UTPA students and faculty were threefold - to increase the awareness of the academic services offered in the U.S. and Mexico; to form strategic alliances that will enrich student and faculty learning; and to encourage development of international collaboration between the schools.
UAT nursing student Rosario Zárate said it was a very interesting experience because she got to see the difference between hospitals in Mexico and the hospitals in the U.S.
"The students here treated us very nicely. I liked that they were very humble," Zárate said.
Speaking for several of the visiting students, another UAT nursing student, Luz Martínez, said that they found that "even though there are cultural differences the goal of nursing is the same here as in Mexico."
According to Huerta, UAT, which has campuses at Nuevo Laredo, Tampico, Victoria and Matamoros, has an even bigger nursing program than UTPA's.
"We are facing a worldwide nursing shortage and this is an appropriate area in which to collaborate," Huerta said.
Joined by additional UAT faculty members, the week's visit culminated in attending "Research Day: Current Issues in Research" Nov. 8 in the University Ballroom. Hosted by UTPA Pi Omicron Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Valley Advanced Practice Nurses' Association, District 26 Texas Nurses' Association, UTPA Nursing Department, UTPA Student Nurses Organization and McAllen Medical Center, the event focused on the adverse effects of partner violence on a women's health; research on partner violence assessment: and intervention and sexual abuse of children.
"This is the first time we have had this exchange and we hope this will lead to a program where our UTPA students will be able to visit UAT," Evans said.
For additional information on future UTPA-UAT nursing exchange opportunities, contact Huerta at 956/381-3496 or Evans at 956/381-3491.