Duquesne University Online DNP | Study Abroad Experience

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Angel Hoffman, a student enrolled in Duquesne University’s online DNP program, shares her experiences in Rome, Italy and surrounding areas during the DNP Study Abroad opportunity.

Webinar Participants:

  • Angel Hoffman, MSN, RN – Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student
  • Mandy Baldwin – Student Support Specialist


Hello, once again everyone and welcome to our webinar today for the Duquesne DNP program study abroad experience. Thank you all for your patience and thank you for joining. We’re excited to have you here today. My name is Mandy Baldwin, and I am one of the student support specialists for the DNP program. Just a quick housekeeping message before we get started, your microphones are currently on mute to eliminate any background noise as we go through the presentation. So, if you have a question, you do have a Q&A box on your screen. Hopefully you see that. So, feel free to type in a question at any point I’ll keep a check on things and then at the end of our presentation today we will go ahead and read through those questions and have a time of Q&A.

So, joining us today for the webinar is current DNP student, Angel Hoffman. Angel, thank you for joining us today. Angel has 39 years of nursing experience and you can see a bit of her resume on the screen right now she’s a current adjunct faculty member for Duquesne. She is a national speaker and healthcare consultant and now an international traveler, having just got back from her Italy study abroad trip. So, we’re so excited to have Angel here sharing a little bit more about her experience with us today. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into some of these questions. I have a few preset questions, and then like I said as we move on in the webinar today we’ll answer any questions from our attendees on the phone.

So, Angel I’ll start off with hopefully a simple question.  What did you do during your two weeks abroad?

Well, we stayed at the Duquesne campus and the first several days we were there in Rome and we saw a lot of the sites and I can go into that. But, then we went on a five-day excursion where we actually went to Naples and we saw in the United States we say Capri, but it’s actually Capri. So, we went there and then we went to Palermo and then back to Rome and spent several more days in Rome. And while we were there, we saw the ruins of Rome, The Forum, some of the history, some of the churches probably one of the most beautiful hospital chapels I’ve ever seen that could stand alone as a church by itself we also saw. Then I think Palermo, they had an open market of fruits vegetables fish and we had dinner in the streets of Palermo just like you see on TV there’s like all these little buildings with people hanging things off their balconies and then there you are sitting there along the street. It’s just such a romantic type of setting. So, I like that a lot too but we saw lots of different things. We did some actual school work. So, there was a couple days of that and we had some guest speakers. And then we also did some touring of medical museums, where we got to see some of the instruments, that I told my husband he probably would have kept in his garage, but they used them back in the day because they were so ancient. So, we saw all that. Of course, we saw the Pope and the Vatican, so just to give you a quick overview. But, there was a there was a lot more than that that we actually did see.

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

What would you say were some of your biggest takeaways from the trip and your time abroad?

Well the Italian people actually are much more relaxed then we are in the United States. Time, we said jokingly, is just a suggestion because they’re not so stressed about time like we are. If I said to Mandy, I’ll pick you up at 2:00 we didn’t show up till 2:30, in the United States would be like texting and calling and say where are you. In Italy, it was like, okay like you know you got there. So, it’s just very different. The bus that we were on during one of the trips actually stopped the rest stop and if you think of them in the United States on any of our highways we have a rest stop. People would get their coffee in a paper cup, get back in their car, and they’re on their way. There they actually drank espresso out of real cups and then took their time. I was amazed by that because I was saying how different that they’re very much more real and their history is very important to them. Well, obviously, they come from ancient Roman times and there’s Greek influence and things like that. So, but they have people like Julius Caesar that walked in The Forum you know and that same one that we were walking in. So, there’s all that kind of history and even to the point where the one hospital is trying to expand the radiology department and have the stop because they accidentally found archaeological finds. So, there’s history’s very important to them. Then on top of that, religion is everything. In Palermo, we saw the streets were closed and there’s police all around. So, we thought oh my goodness something must be happening and here it was Corpus Christi Day meaning body of Christ. Here in the States, that’s just the Sunday. As many of you probably know, it’s just the Sunday you go to church. Well for them, it was an evening procession with all these priests and bishops and would have thought you were at the Macy’s Day Parade. I mean that’s kind of a thing where the people followed the crowd and everything. It was amazing to see. So, definitely history and religion and then there relaxed attitude those are the most important things I think that I came away with.

Yeah! It sounds like you really got to touch on a lot of parts of Italian culture and society while you were there.

So, bringing it back into the course you’re in, and the course that sort of houses this study abroad trip the GPNG 917 Transcultural and Global Health Perspectives. How would you say the study abroad trip influenced your work in that course specifically?

Well, I think that we have preconceived notions about other countries, but actually going there and trying to become a part of them was what we call it immersing yourself in the culture and we really did. They had us bring journals with us and we took notes on the things we saw because you know that a couple days later, you can’t remember. So, it was good to have those notes. Especially, we wrote some papers when we got back and having the notes of course reminded me about different things so that was good. The course is amazing in general and if in any way possible you can go in this trip you have to do it because I feel like it changed me as a person, just being a nurse on looking at a different culture in a different way. I didn’t have any pressures from home you know that kind of thing. You weren’t just there by yourself. In other words, you were there with a group of other nurses and you were just picking up all that information is kind of absorbing the culture. One thing I forgot to mention when you asked me some of the things that I came away with, I forgot to tell you about the food’s great and very fresh.

The next question kind of ties in to what you were talking about of just how you think this trip will impact your larger studies in your larger project plan within the DNP program. Are these takeaways lasting for you?

Yes, I think so. At the same time, we took the Social Justice Vulnerable Populations and they kind of related so we were able to use some of our Italian experience in the other class too with some of our writings, but it made you look at vulnerable populations. For example, there were people that were homeless and there’s one church there that actually does a lot of work with the homeless and it was all volunteer. They have a picture of a statue that the artist had made, actually and we were all taking pictures of it, and it was it’s just a man in a cloak it’s all black the entire thing and it was called Homeless Jesus. I have to tell you, it gave me goosebumps. You know to think about that. Then the other thing I guess that kind of upset me, then is a man sat down next to it and was talking on a cell phone I’m like that’s like disrespectful you know kind of thing. So, it made me really start to think about that you know about taking care of different kinds of populations and people and not everybody has what we have. We have our own homeless in our own country I was thinking about that what we do for those people and so what you really go a sense of self I guess and little time for self-reflection I think.

Yeah, definitely, it sounds like it. So, kind of a fun questioned to round things out.

What was your favorite part of studying abroad, whether school-related or not, just something you loved about the trip?

Well traveling with a group of nurses was a lot of fun, I have to tell you that. Even to the point where someone says I have a headache and there was at least 15 people that said what do you need Tylenol, Advil. So, that was fun. Just the personalities of the nurses was fun. I’ve never been in an all nurse group like that before that was a lot of fun. But overall, I think that the trip was very good for me. Even though I’ve been a nurse for a very long time, it was time for me to take a step back and kind of think about my career and think about where I’m going and what still needs to be done out there. I actually had a brief conversation with a nurse who’s 91 years old not too long ago with my students and she was telling me she still teaches the Silver Sneakers and those people are in her group were mostly 70s and 80s. So, when I was talking to her she said there’s just so much more to do so there. She was working at 91 years old. I think she’s sees a homecare patient like twice a week or something like that so I think about that. I think about in our careers as nurses, whether we’re retired or we have the day off or something like that I always say you can take the nurse out of nursing but you can never take the nursing out of the nurse. So, no matter how old we are we will always be nurses and I think that’s a good thing and going to Italy just helped to add to that come expand my horizons and make me think a little differently and think about vulnerable populations in a little bit different way. We think about vulnerable populations we mostly think about you know race, religion, sexual orientation, things like that but we start talking about how about pain in groups of people that have pain. Then you start to think about that or homeless people and you start to think about groups in a very different way and I think that’s probably the biggest difference for me. Not that I ever treated anybody differently, because I teach the students that we’re all the same but looking at different populations in a different way outside of the typical categories was I think it was important to me.

That’s great. It sounds like it sort of took you out of your comfort zone and showed you how another place operate. The final question – was this opportunity a deciding factor in choosing Duquesne’s DNP program? But, I would also add to that. Sort of looking back on this other side of the trip, do you think it should be a deciding factor in the program?

I guess that’s a little bit of a hard question for me because I actually like Duquesne and so going to Duquesne for my DNP wasn’t a question. I already knew I want to go to Duquesne though and I was already there but I think if you’re not sure and you’re deciding between different schools then the fact that Duquesne has this program is very unique then that should be a deciding factor. Almost everyone in the class went there. There were a few that couldn’t for personal reasons. They had like one lady had some medical problems and so she wasn’t able to do all the walking but I mean other than if you have something different you know then that some other excuse like you know I’m busy with work or something like that just push that aside because the trip is absolutely worth it.

It sounds like it! I’m a little jealous myself.

Well I thought maybe after I graduated, I can volunteer to be one of the other faculty that goes as a chaperone.

Awesome. Well, those are all the preset questions we had so thanks so much for just reliving your trip with us and sharing.

Now for our attendees, on the on the screen on the computer there, if you have any questions that you’d like Angel to talk about anything that we didn’t go over or just something that’s been in the back of your mind feel free to type in into that Q&A box and I’ll see the question come in and can read it over to Angel.

I don’t see any yet but go ahead and take your time.

Feel free to ask anything because I’m a nurse you know but nothing’s off-limits.

Thank you give it a few more minutes.

Oh, here we go, one question came in.

How long was the trip and at what part of your program did you go?

So, I just started in January, but the other group had started in the fall so we went together so we’re I think two separate cohorts but we’re actually graduating in the same year in 2019. So, actually I just started in January and I went away for Maymester. So, for me it was very soon for the fall group it was just a little bit later and if the trip itself was two weeks.

Thank you. Yeah, I think it kind of varies depending on what time you come into the program, but the study abroad trip always happens over a summer semester.

Here’s another question. What made you decide to go back and get your DNP?

So, I wanted to go back to school for a long time but my children were small and the only degree they had at the time with PhD. And to be honest two times I actually applied for the PhD and then withdrew my applications I’m like I can’t do those little kids. Now there are people in my program, now they’re actually are doing it with small children, but at the time I thought oh I have so much going on so and I wasn’t sure that the PhD was the program that was best for me because it’s mostly focused on the research so then later the doctor nursing science came out and so I thought that’s interesting, but then when the DNP program was developed that seemed the most like me because I focus on both clinical and the business side of healthcare and I like that a lot because we could take the ideas that we have an extra come into clinical practice or evidence-based practice. So, I decided to go back because it’s something I always wanted to do and then in my mind I still see myself probably teaching for the next ten years. I know some of your probably like what you should be retiring but I don’t at this point in my life I don’t see any reason why I would probably just retire and stay home and drive my husband crazy so I figured that going back to school was a good thing for me I really like school and it’s a way to expand your mind.

Thanks, Angel. We have another question that came in. Would it be possible to shadow Nurse Anesthesia in the OR of a hospital or acute care rotations? Is there any actual interaction with doctors, surgeons, and acute care NPs or CRNAs?

So, I can only speak right now about Allegheny in general, but yes in general a lot of times have my senior students go there and spend time in the OR so if you want something specific like nurse practitioners or nurse anesthesia you know and or medicine or whatever I’m sure that could be arranged.

Well thank you well those are all the questions that we had come in but we’ll stay on a few minutes if anyone else wants to type in a question or if you have any follow-up questions for Angel.

It’s definitely a program specially the two weeks in Italy that you just don’t want to miss if you have the opportunity to do it I would do it. I actually was a little bit hesitant at first but I thought oh I have a lot to do too and I thought now I better go and even my family encouraged me to go and now I think if I hadn’t missed up I’ve been so mad at myself so I’m really glad I went there.

We got a couple thank-you messages that came in, Angel and it looks like we have a few more questions actually.

So, can you tell us more about your business experience in healthcare?

Yeah, so I’m a healthcare consultant now prior to that I had been in management on the nursing side and due to unfortunate layoffs, or you might say fortunate, I ended up on the business side. I went to risk management, worked there for several years and worked with the legal nurse consultants as well and then I was asked to develop a compliance program which I did for physicians. Then after I did that, there was this new thing called HIPAA and I actually read up on it and then became the HIPAA Director of the large teaching facility in Pittsburgh. Then from there, I actually became the director of all of compliance and actually revamped their whole compliance program so that kind of got me going. Then I became a chief compliance officer after that for several locations and then I decided that being a health care consultant was something I could probably share my 39 years of experience with others and so I do. I teach from the board on down compliance ethics risk management patient safety and quality and I do it all over the United States.

We have another question, back to Rome. So, did you say the name of the main city you stayed in and/or the name of the home hospital?

In Rome, we stayed at Duquesne but then the hospital that we saw they had the absolutely gorgeous chapel where they had to stop the exploration from the radiology department. It was just beautiful. But there were many churches and also cathedrals throughout Italy that we saw and of course the Vatican.

Okay so then we have another comment come in sorry if this has already been answered could you speak to the interactions you had while you were in Italy with patients nurses other health care professionals how was that different than your interactions in the US?

Well most of them don’t even speak Italian. That was shocking to me. So, I speak a little bit of Italian but I probably, and I joke about this, but I probably spoke like a toddler but I was able to get by. But anyway, I was able to talk to the nurses at the Hospital some that weren’t able speak Italian. Some that could and so I asked about a window that was open. Now in Italy, air conditioning, we laughed about it and said it’s sort of a joke, unless you’re in like a large hotel or something like that that’s how we think of air conditioning their air conditioning is so mild that it’s actually hot and so their hospital was hot. So, they actually had the window open and in the nurses like charting area and there was no screen on the window and so I was asking about infection and the one nurse who was able to speak a little bit English told me yes they get insects and birds almost had a heart attack especially being animals infection control nurse so those of you out there probably laughing but you know I’m like oh I’m like “Infection?”  she said “Sí” so I worried about that. So, there was some interaction that way now when we went to Palermo you could see the Western culture influence. I don’t know as everyone knows about that, but UPMC in Pittsburgh actually has had major influence on that and so you can see the Western culture and the people there did speak English and we had quite a few conversations about patient safety, nurse patient acuity, like one of the topics that we would talk about in the United States though you could see the Western influence and they were bilingual and it was a lot easier to discuss issues with them.

I love that story about the window. I heard it from a few students too.

Very different, I almost fainted.

Well, I haven’t seen any other questions come in so I’ll sort of give a last call here for questions if anyone has anything else they’d like to ask Angel on the phone today feel free to type in your question and if not then we will go ahead and close out in a few minutes

And, Mandy, if anyone has additional things that they come up with they would like to talk to me about I’d be happy if they you know wanted to do that through you that would be fine I’d be happy to answer any additional questions if you’re on the I would say if you’re on the fence between going and not going push yourself over this side for going because you won’t be sorry.

Awesome.  Yeah, you stole my last point there, I was going to say if anyone thinks of a question after today as you’re reflecting on the webinar feel free you can reach out to your enrollment advisor and they can get you in contact with myself or Angel again to answer more questions about the trip or the program at large would be happy to do so. So, I haven’t seen any other questions come in so I think I’m going to call that call that a day, but thank you all again so much for joining angel thanks for sharing about your experience with us and I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your day.

Thanks for having me. It was my privilege.

Thank you, bye.