vanier nursing exchange program
Every year since 2011 (except for years when COVID prevented student travel), a group of final year nursing students from Vanier College in Montreal completes their final internship in Malawi. Students in the exchange complete 160 hours of clinical nursing during seven weeks of their final semester in Malawi to fulfill their Nursing DEC requirements and consolidate their nursing skills.
During their first three weeks, they gain hands-on experience in the wards and surgery as well as screening for illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS at St. Andrews Mission Hospital, a small rural hospital, and live in the Makupo guesthouse as part of their orientation/familiarization with village life. As their stay coincides with the peak of the malaria season, they are able to apply their nursing skills just when extra health personnel are most useful.
For the remaining three weeks, they are stationed at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Lilongwe, a more urban medical institution where they take classes and share experiences with local nursing students.
Aside from earning their diplomas, the students learn how to adapt nursing care to the values and beliefs of the Malawian people, thus becoming more culturally competent. Cultural competence is increasingly being seen as an imperative skill that Canadian nurses must possess in order to provide competent nursing care to our diverse Canadian population. The experience in Malawi also serves to provide students with a global perspective of the nursing profession and to recognize that their Vanier nursing education has global application.
The other aspect of this program is a visit to Canada of nursing students from Kamuzu University of Health Sciences. In Montreal they attend classes and visit hospitals and clinics. Although immigration regulations and visa procedures sometimes complicate this aspect of the program, Vanier has hosted Malawian students every year except for the "COVID years".