Reaching across the continents

The College of Nursing is helping to build S.C.'s nursing workforce, but the college's reach is also global, improving health care around the world. 

Deb McQuilkin, the college’s director of global initiatives, works with the USC Global Health Initiative, which includes faculty members from several schools and departments participating in various international educational, service and research programs. 

“Our mission is to identify and solve complex global health problems and disparities in a sustainable manner while training the next generation of global health leaders,” McQuilkin states.

“We achieve this by stimulating and supporting interdisciplinary research, education and service within the USC community in collaboration with global partners. Our desire is to be a world leader in improving the lives of the people in S.C. and the world.”

DeAnne Messias has dedicated her professional career to addressing the challenges facing underserved and vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on  access to cultural and linguistically competent care. Her expertise spans a range of issues and content, including women's work and health, immigrant health, linguistic and cultural competency, language access, community activism, qualitative and community-based research methods and community-academic partnerships.

“My first position as a professional nurse involved coordinating a community health worker program on the Brazilian Amazon — and 35 years later, my current research projects involve community health worker initiatives aimed at improving health and health care access among the Latino population in South Carolina and along the Texas-Mexico border,” Messias noted.

Messias also taught in an undergraduate nursing program in Brazil and continues to collaborate women’s health research with Brazilian colleagues over the years. She serves  on the editorial boards of several Latin American nursing journals and has served as a consultant in several Latin American countries.

Sue Heiney developed Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery (CLIMB), a support program for children whose parents have cancer, which was offered in the U.S. and attended by Japanese nurses, social workers and child life specialists. Heiney was invited to Japan through Hope Tree, a volunteer organization founded to support children of cancer patients. She conducted workshops there to teach pediatricians, oncologists, nurses, social workers and child life specialists how to implement CLIMB. Heiney later developed the Butterfly program, specifically for Japanese oncology professionals to teach them strategies for explaining impending death to children of parents in hospice and palliative care. 

“I am thrilled and honored that my Japanese cancer colleagues have embraced CLIMB based on my previous research and felt their patients and families would benefit from them.  I am deeply touched when my Japanese colleagues email me stories of the impact of their work using my programs,” Heiney said.  

Studying abroad for students is expanding at the College of Nursing. In addition to courses in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Germany and London, the newest study abroad opportunity for USC nursing students is Australia. 

“According to the Commonwealth Fund, the health outcomes in Australia are No. 4 in the world and the U.S. is eleventh across multiple measures,” McQuilkin said. “Australia has a nationalized health system augmented by private insurance. This will be a great model for our students to see in action. Also, our students will gain exposure to the expanded role of nurses and midwives in providing preventative care.”

McQuilkin visits Australia several times a year and has built a relationship with the Australian Catholic University School of Nursing. USC nursing students who will study there for the two-week program this summer will spend about 40 hours observing in clinical settings and learn cross-cultural communication skills and transcultural nursing concepts.

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