News and Events

SON’s First Student Fulbright Scholar

July 2, 2012 | In Education, Global Health, News, Students

Stephanie Sun Stephanie Sun

Stephanie Sun embarks this week on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award in South Korea. Sun, a May 2012 BSN graduate, will spend July 2012 – July 2013 in Korea, acting as an English teacher and cultural ambassador. She is the School of Nursing’s first student Fulbright Scholar.

Sun’s award was bestowed on behalf of the Korean-American Educational Commission and the J. William Fulbright Scholarship board. She will spend her first six weeks in a training and orientation program in Goesan, Chungcheongbuk-do, Korea. From there she will be assigned to an elementary school where she will begin her teaching post.

Sun chose Korea for her grant year for the opportunity to explore a new culture. “I was looking for an immersion experience in a different culture. I chose Korea because I want cultural competency and more growth in that area.” Sun had considered Taiwan, her parents’ country of origin, but ultimately chose to challenge herself in a less known location.

“I’ve always been interested in being a global citizen, and passionate about being aware of what’s going on in the world. In nursing, I want to work abroad with an organization that’s globally minded,” Sun said.

A global health award enabled Sun to pursue her international interests while still in nursing school. Sun spent six weeks in Kenya learning about community health and assisting in medical clinics as part of Chris Harlan’s N489 course in summer 2011. The experience included work with Moi University and the nonprofit Reach-Out. Sun also helped found UNICEF at Carolina during her studies at UNC.

Sun will stay connected to nursing while in Korea by researching job opportunities and graduate programs for when she returns to the U.S. She is interested in nurse practitioner and midwifery programs.

But for now, “I’m excited for what the grant year has to hold,” Sun said. “I’m focusing on keeping my mind open so the experience can be the best it can be.”

SON Nursing Education and Simulation Expertise Utilized in Kitui, Kenya

June 28, 2012 | In Education, Faculty, Global Health, News

Update – 8/30/2012: The SON embarks on a new project in partnership with IntraHealth International, which was awarded a 5-year, $40 million grant from USAID. The project aims to build responsive, country-led training systems to improve the accessibility and quality of health workforce training throughout Kenya. The SON’s 3-year, $335,000 subcontract, led by Drs. Gwen Sherwood, Carol Durham and Sonda Oppewal, will focus on developing nursing education.

Patient safety and quality are at the core of healthcare education across the globe. Over the past year, School of Nursing faculty and Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) health professionals focused on these concepts in the enhancement of a skills lab at KMTC Kitui’s Centre of Excellence for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Training in Kitui, Kenya, Africa.

The skills lab was recently upgraded by Capacity Kenya to include state-of-the-art teaching tools and simulation equipment. UNC SON faculty lent their nursing education and simulation expertise to a skills training program in collaboration with KMTC faculty at the upgraded lab.

Carol Durham, director of the Education-Innovation-Simulation Learning Environment (EISLE), Darlene Baker, assistant director of EISLE, Sonda Oppewal, SON clinical associate professor, and Gwen Sherwood, associate dean for academic affairs communicated regularly via Skype with faculty in Kitui to develop the training program’s educational goals and discuss logistics. Darlene Baker and Sonda Oppewal then traveled to Kitui, Kenya, April 27– May 12, 2012 to assist in the implementation of the program.

To read more please click here.

Global Health Scholars Present at Beijing Nursing Conference

June 15, 2012 | In Faculty, Global Health, News, Students

china-students1 Tai, McKenna, Solano, and Jamison in Beijing

BSN students Lauren McKenna, Natalie Solano, Merle Tai, and MSN student Holly Jamison presented an educational paper at the 2012 Beijing International Nursing Conference, June 8-10, 2012. The School of Nursing at Peking Union Medical College hosted the conference, which featured speakers from Australia, China, Hong Kong, and the United States. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Gwen Sherwood attended as an invited participant.

Merle Tai said she experienced the conference as a great exchange of information. “I found that a lot of struggles we have within nursing in the United States, other countries struggle with, too. I felt more connected to the world of nursing.” The group presented on high fidelity simulation in nursing education.

The conference marked the end of a three-week stay in China for the students, who took part in a learning exchange with the School of Nursing at PUMC. MSN student Margaux Simon also visited PUMC in early May, 2012.

These student visits are part of a growing exchange between UNC SON and PUMC. UNC hosted PUMC PhD student Wang Hui in Spring 2012 while Wang conducted a comparative study on post operative pain management outcomes in China and the U.S., using data collected by SON students. Jamison, McKenna, Simon, Solano, Tai, and Suzanne Riddle participated in the real-world research opportunity, collecting data from 240 patients at UNCH.

SON’s exchange with PUMC will continue this fall, when a small delegation of students and two faculty members from Beijing will visit UNC.

Experts Gather to Take a Global View of the Nursing Workforce

June 7, 2012 | In Education, Global Health, News


On May 9, work force researcher Dr. Cheryl Jones and Associate Dean Gwen Sherwood brought together researchers, policy makers, and industry and academic leaders from within and outside of the United States to discuss issues related to the international nurse workforce at a conference titled, The Globalization of the Nursing Workforce: the Migration and Mobility of Nurses.

Nurses are a major workforce in the global economy, and their movement from country to country is a critical issue. This meeting explored the myriad legal, economic, cultural, social, and educational ramifications associated with the global nursing workforce. It was funded by the UNC Center for Global Initiatives.

Dr. Ronald P. Strauss, UNC’s Executive Vice Provost and Chief International Officer, welcomed meeting participants for this event, which was held in theFedEx Global Education Center. Dr. Niklaus Steiner, Director the UNC Center for Global Initiatives, and a policy expert in migration issues, also welcomed and challenged the group to find research opportunities to inform U.S. and global workforce policies. Dr. Jones asked attendees to consider bridging boundaries to identify key issues that need studying to prepare for and plan the future global nursing workforce.

The first speaker, Dr. Michael Gates (PhD ’05) from San Diego State University School of Nursing, told the group that nurses educated in other countries and working in the United States are more likely to be baccalaureate trained and understanding this group’s view of nursing is important for helping employers develop better strategies for integrating them into an organization.

Chifundo Zimba, a current SON doctoral student from Malawi, said that her fellow nurses often leave Malawi because of poor working and living conditions. They move to locales and organizations where they know others have been accepted and had good professional experiences.

More data needed

A major theme at the conference was that there are very little data regarding where internationally educated nurses practice and where they move over time. Dr. Jones is completing a cross-sectional study of internationally educated nurses employed in 16 states across the U.S. that should provide some of this information, which is key for studying the role of international nurses in the health care workforce.

Dr. Sherwood, who is a co-investigator on the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sparked an important discussion of how cultural differences can affect quality and safety practices and shape patient expectations, and how employers and regulators might best equip nurses to work competently with diverse populations.

The main product from the conference will be a series of manuscripts co-authored by meeting participants outlining the state of knowledge regarding global nursing workforce migration and mobility, the gaps in knowledge, and a research agenda to guide future work in the area.

Other important topics discussed at the conference included:

  • Dr. Christine Kovner from New York University talked about the use of simulation models to examine various ways of achieving the IOM’s Future of Nursing report (2011) recommendation to increase the percentage of baccalaureate-trained nurses, including the use of internationally-trained nurses.

  • Dr. Linda McGillis Hall from the University of Toronto discussed her research examining why nurses leave Canada and the strategies being used to retain them.

  • Dr. Erin Fraher from UNC discussed the universal challenge of getting nurses to practice in areas where they are most needed.

  • Dr. Joanne Spetz from the University of California at San Francisco discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by a state that relies on internationally-educated nurses to meet basic health care needs of its citizens.

  • Dr. Sung-Hyun Cho from Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea discussed her research showing that community characteristics were strongly associated with the hiring of internationally-educated nurses by U.S. hospitals.

  • Dr. Carol Brewer from the University at Buffalo -SUNY proposed a model of mobility that could guide future research examining nurse migration.

  • Dr. Franklin Shaffer, the CEO of CGFNS International, discussed the needs of policy-makers and regulators globally to shape the health care workforce of the future. CGFNS is an immigration-neutral nonprofit organization that helps guides nurses, health care and other professionals worldwide on credentials and other requirements for education, registration and licensure,

  • Dr. Tom Ricketts from UNC recapped the meeting discussions, which focused on restructuring nursing to meet a changing and global health care system.

SON graduate students helped organize the conference.

Global Health Scholars Embark on International Learning Exchanges

May 2, 2012 | In Education, Global Health, News, Students

GlobalGroup SON Global Health Participants

32 students from the School of Nursing will act as global scholars this summer in 15 countries, including China, New Guinea, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Guatemala, Chile, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Portugal, and, for the first time, the United States.

Several students will join ongoing projects like Carolina for Kibera, UNC Project-Malawi, and the Atlantis Project. Others will continue exchange relationships in Uganda, China, Guatemala, and others. Several students will return to their countries of origin to apply new healthcare perspectives.

Melinda Kellner Brock Public Health Nursing Scholar Audrey Boyles will be the first student to study domestically as a Global Health Scholar, working with the volunteer initiative Santa Barbara Street Medicine in California.

Marcia Van Riper will travel to Ireland with Fulbright award

March 23, 2012 | In Education, Faculty, Global Health, News

Marica VanRiper Dr. Marcia Van Riper

Marcia Van Riper, an associate professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing, has been selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB) to receive a Fulbright award for travel to Ireland.

The FSB is presidentially appointed, and grant awards are made possible through funds appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress and, in many cases, by contributions from partner countries and/or the private sector. By representing our country in Ireland, Dr. Van Riper will help fulfill the principal purpose of the Fulbright Program, which is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of the more than 150 countries that currently participate in the program.

Dr. Van Riper will collaborate with faculty at the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Ireland, in teaching, research and publishing. She will use this opportunity to conduct a mixed-methods, cross-cultural study designed to address existing gaps in knowledge concerning how cultural scripts (cultural norms, values and practices) and a variety of family factors (i.e., family demands, family appraisal, family resources, family problem solving communication, family coping, and family management styles) contribute to adaptation and resilience in families of individuals with Down Syndrome. Initially the study will be conducted with families of individuals with Down Syndrome in Ireland and the United States. Eventually the study will include participants from a number of different countries (e.g., Brazil, Italy, Korea, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, and Thailand).

Read more about Dr. Van Riper’s research in Resilience in families with Down syndrome.

UNC Project-Malawi Nurse Comes to Chapel Hill for PhD

November 11, 2011 | In Education, Global Health, News, Students

Chifundo Chifundo Zimba

Doctoral student Chifundo Zimba is the first nurse sponsored by the University of North Carolina Project-Malawi (UNC Project) to come to the UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing. She wants to use her experience at the School of Nursing to advance nursing in her home country.

As the first PhD-trained nurse at the UNC Project, I hope to have collaborators at the School of Nursing who can assist me in establishing nursing research, which we don’t have currently,” she says.

The UNC Project is a partnership between the University and the Malawi Ministry of Health to carry out research, care, and training programs in the capital city of Lilongwe in some districts within the central region of Malawi. In 2001, Zimba joined the UNC Project as a research nurse for a study examining how to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. She was the 54th employee hired, and now UNC Project has grown to more than 250 employees. The project has also grown from only a few research projects focused on HIV and STD prevention to more than 15 research projects being performed today, including a large malaria vaccine study.

“The UNC Project is positively affecting Malawi not only by being a very big employer but also by being a large collaborator with our government,” Zimba says. Some of the research conducted by the UNC Project has been translated into policies that are implemented by the Malawi government. The Project also provides support for HIV and STD prevention programs, some of which began as research and have since been adopted across the country.

For her dissertation, Zimba plans to conduct research related to prevention, management, and/or care of women in Malawi with HIV. “I am learning a lot of which I think I will translate to knowledge to assist my fellow Malawians,” she says. She is also thinking about working with the University of Malawi to develop programs that will uplift the nursing profession in Malawi.


Chifundo Zimba met Chancellor Holden Thorp when he visited UNC-Project Malawi in 2010.