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A Global Perspective on Health: Tanzania Nursing Study Tour 2022

Nursing students in Tanzania


March 22, 2022 

In January 2022, a group of 12 students, alumni, faculty and staff embarked on a 10-day trip to Tanzania to provide vital health care to vulnerable populations across the country. The trip was part of Cedar Crest’s Nursing in a Global Community Study Tour, a transformative short-term study abroad opportunity that challenges participants to expand their minds and examine the world. 

The participants spent a full semester preparing for the challenges they would face and learning about the people and culture of Tanzania. 

“The need for health care assistance in Tanzania is greater than ever,” says School of Nursing Dean and trip faculty Wendy Robb, Ph.D. Tanzania ranks 159 out of 187 on the Poverty Index Scale, 68% of people fall below the global poverty line — equivalent to living on less than $1.25 USD per day — and 44% of the population is less than 15 years of age. Many children live in orphanages. 

The Cedar Crest group provided care in two remote villages, which had not had visits from health care professionals in over two years due to the pandemic. The trip participants experienced clinical work firsthand and, in the process, learned about the socio-cultural and economic dimensions of health care in Tanzania.

On the first day at each village, the Cedar Crest participants split into three to four groups, each accompanied by a translator and community elder, to complete home visits. The groups gathered information and encouraged individuals to visit the clinic the next day.  
Field clinics were set up in churches or community areas the following day. The Cedar Crest volunteers worked in small groups and rotated performing patient interviews and taking vitals. Under the supervision of a local professional, they had the opportunity to observe the examination, diagnosis and treatment process.  

“The trip is a life-changing experience,” says Robb. “But there are moments that can weigh heavy on participants,” including witnessing devastating poverty and working with individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS and chronic illnesses.  

The team treated over 150 patients at the clinics, visited an orphanage, toured a local hospital and distributed six suitcases (around 600 lbs.) of donated supplies they had collected prior to the trip, including eyeglasses, travel-sized toiletries, children’s toys, first aid kits, school supplies and flip flops.

“I signed up for this trip for a few reasons,” says Maura Ryan, a senior nursing major. “I have always loved traveling because of how eye-opening it is to be in a new place and gain new perspectives. I was really excited about the opportunity to go to Africa, to go on a Study Tour relevant to nursing and to learn about health care in a new environment. I saw this as an opportunity to utilize my clinical skills in a new way, as the health care needs in Tanzania are much different than those here in the United States.”

The group also had the opportunity to visit Tarangire National Park for a safari, swim in the local hot springs, hike through the forests and shop at a local market. The experience inspired students and alumni to appreciate cultural differences, explore other kinds of health care systems and develop a global perspective in their caregiving. 

“This experience will absolutely help me in my career,” says Ryan. “As a senior, I am only a few months away from being responsible for my own patients. This trip allowed me to care for people with certain disease processes that I've learned about but hadn't yet seen in the clinical setting… I learned and saw so much that I look forward to applying to my future work as a nurse. Additionally, it was valuable to work with a group of people who come from a much different background than my own, because this will often be the case among patients I care for.”  

Next year, a new group will embark on a Nursing Study Tour to Belize.

Learn more about the School of Nursing and its programs at www.cedarcrest.edu/nursing 

Visit the Office of Global Initiatives and International Programs to learn more about study abroad at Cedar Crest College.