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Student nurses experience first hand diversity, complementary therapies, and transcultural healing

May 2, 2003

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University of Maine at Fort Kent nursing students, enrolled in NUR 380 (Sociocultural Aspects of Nursing and Healthcare), accompanied by two nursing faculty participated in a field trip to Portland to experience first hand the concepts pertaining to diversity, complementary therapies, and transcultural healing.

On their first evening in Portland, the sophomore and junior students attended the Pulitzer Prize winning play entitled Fences, by August Wilson. The issues of race, gender, class, love, marriage, family, and death, as depicted in the lives of members of an African-American family in the 1950s, continue to be relevant today.

The next morning, the seven students and two UMFK professors, met with Kristen Lombard, a psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist, at True North, an integrative health and healing center in Falmouth, Maine. The students learned from her the philosophy of the facility in which collaborative practice truly became a reality for the many health care professionals who practice there.

In an effort to promote healing of mind, body and spirit, Lombard explained that True North health care providers, from many disciplines, blend allopathic or western medicine with the complementary modalities of holistic health care.

The students also visited the Museum of African Tribal Art, where curator Oscar Mokeme discussed the symbolism and meaning of many of the artifacts and masks on display. Students were fascinated to find themselves participants in a traditional healing ceremony, wherein each person's need was identified.

The trip was concluded by attendance at the Student Nurses Association of Maine annual conference. Congressman Mike Michaud was the replacement keynote speaker, as the president of the American Nurses Association was unable to make the conference.

"Student's indicated how moved they felt by what was portrayed in Fences, and they reflected a deeper awareness of how nurses contribute to diverse healing processes," said Jenny Radsma, assistant professor of nursing, at UMFK. "Several students also commented that, despite their travel fatigue, they felt refreshed and energized from their experiences."

Students who participated were Judy Dumond of Van Buren, Travis Jandreau of St. Francis, Denise Marquis of Van Buren, Nicole McCullough of Limestone, Sarrah Morris of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, Denise Potvin of Fort Kent, and Erin Voisine of Fort Kent. They were accompanied by Radsma and Lisa Theriault, assistant professor of nursing.

The trip was made possible by funding from the Student Senate and the Student Nursing Organization (SNO).