In Ghana, Iona University Nursing Students Gain Invaluable Clinical Experience

Iona Students Learn Outside The Lines

Nursing students visit the Holy Family Nursing & Midwifery Teaching College in Berekum, Ghana.

From left to right: Maria Morano, Bryanna Palamara, Ashia Graham, Camryn Abbate, and Alexis Martinez at the Holy Family Nursing & Midwifery Teaching College in Berekum, Ghana.

New Rochelle, N.Y. - Iona University nursing students recently spent 10 days in Berekum, Ghana, gaining hands-on clinical experience and deepening their sense of patient-centered care. 

Placed in a rural hospital setting, students worked alongside Iona faculty and Ghanaian nurses and physicians to understand health care in an acute hospital environment. 

This clinical immersion program – conducted in partnership with Holy Family Nursing & Midwifery Training College and Holy Family Hospital this February – complements Iona’s NUR 402 course, which explores how social determinants impact health. Following their participation in Ghana, students earned 50 clinical hours.

“In Ghana, nursing students embarked on a transformative journey, honing practical skills and cultural competency that will shape their careers,” said Sherylyn Watson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNE, director of nursing and associate dean.

Nursing students built their familiarity with Ghana’s health care system specifically in the accident and emergency unit (A&E) and operating theatre, which is equivalent to the United States’ emergency and operating room where they witnessed cesarean section deliveries. They then rotated to the maternity, labor & delivery, and pediatric wards, as well as outpatient clinics and school health. 

Ashia Graham ’24 shared her reflection following the maternity and delivery room rotation, saying the experience furthered her understanding of how to provide the best possible care.  

“When you have a patient who has a different walk of life than you, it is important to try to understand them because it alters how you provide care,” she said. “In mental health, we learned that people who immigrated to the States take a long time to seek help because of the lack of trust and fear of not being considered or respected. As a nurse, this opportunity helped me understand why this is so important. Without this understanding or ability to view things from someone else’s point of view, how can you provide the best care for someone?”

Beyond the invaluable clinical experience in Ghana, students developed a deeper sense of compassion – a critical skill for nurses.

You can learn more about the Ghana study abroad program here.

Nursing students visit a Catholic 3rd grade classroom in Ghana.

Visiting and donating school supplies to a third grade classroom at a local Catholic school in Berekum.

Meeting with local admins to discuss healthcare.

While in Ghana, administrators and professors from Iona had the opportunity to meet with healthcare professionals from Holy Family Hospital to discuss local healthcare practices. 

Nursing students do growth and development assessments at a school in Ghana.

Iona nursing students work with the public health nurses at their school health clinic to assess growth and development and administer medications.

Blessing of the Hands ceremony for the first-year nursing students.

Attending the Blessing of the Hands ceremony for the first-year nursing students. In this photo, nursing student Ashia Graham is getting her hands blessed.

Saying a prayer over the donated nursing textbooks Shery Watson, Ph.D., brought.

Saying a prayer over the donated nursing textbooks Shery Watson, Ph.D., brought to the Holy Family Nursing & Midwifery Teaching College in Berekum,

Visiting the Elmina Castle and Slave Dungeons.

The group learned the history of the slave trade while visiting the Elmina Castle & Slave Dungeons (1482) in Cape Coast, Ghana.

Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.