At the UF College of Nursing, the celebration of UF International Education Week started early. On Oct. 17, the college’s latest international visitors were greeted with a warm, welcoming “Bem-vindo” after a nearly 15-hour trip from South America.
Thanks to a collaboration 10 years in the making, 10 nursing faculty from three Brazilian universities, (Fluminense Federal University, the University of São Paulo, and the Federal University of Acre) recently participated in a week-long exchange program at the college to learn about advanced nursing education, specifically, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP, degree.
In Brazil, the nurse practitioner role, an advanced practice nursing position held by those with a DNP degree, is not yet officially recognized, said Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement, Jeanne-Marie Stacciarini, PhD, RN, FAAN, who has supported this collaboration since its inception and is also of Brazilian descent. According to Stacciarini, the College of Nursing is spearheading the nurse practitioner profession’s acknowledgement in Brazil by helping visiting faculty understand the important role advanced practice nurses can play in both the clinical and academic setting.
During the week full of activities, the visitors became knowledgeable about all things DNP, as well as the nurse practitioner profession. Through meet and greets with Gator Nursing faculty, administrators, students and alumni, the international visitors discovered how the College of Nursing is preparing advanced practice nurses to be successful clinicians. They also paid a visit to UF Health Shands, Archer Family Health Care and Nemours Children’s Hospital to observe and learn how nurse practitioners can use all aspects of their education to care for patients in different clinical settings.
College of Nursing research and innovation were also on display during the event. Through a tour of the Thomas M. Kirbo and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab — the college’s newly renovated simulation space — the group gained hands-on experience with the cutting-edge simulations that support critical thinking education for DNP students. They also learned how nurse practitioners can work to solve highly complex clinical problems and provide personalized care.
The cultural exchange also reached multiple areas of campus– six UF students from various programs attended the event to support Portuguese translations whenever needed.
“Every moment we had here was perfect,” said Eny Dorea, PhD, RN, assistant professor from Fluminense Federal University. “Seeing how professors interacted with students to help them learn new skills was wonderful and one of the tour’s highlights.”
Throughout the week, visiting faculty got a special, firsthand look at the structure of Florida’s No. 1 ranked DNP program through discussions with degree track coordinators and testimonials from previous students. For many of them, this experience marked the first time their eyes were opened to this side of clinical care.
“This was a wonderful exchange opportunity,” Stacciarini said. “These international visitors took part in an extensive agenda to learn about what advance practice nursing innovations and health-related research are developing at the College of Nursing. I hope they are able to take these insights back to help transform the role of the nursing profession at home.”
The partnership with Brazil got its start a decade ago when the UF College of Nursing received a visiting scholar from Fluminense Federal University who wished to better understand graduate nursing offerings, including both the DNP and the PhD in Nursing Science degrees. Since then, the college has established an agreement with Fluminense Federal to help develop their DNP program, which, most recently, has resulted in faculty visiting Brazil to share their insights about masters and doctoral nursing education in-person at a September 2021 national keynote address.
The overall success of this initiative encouraged Fluminese Federal university representatives to invite their colleagues from other schools to take part in the collaboration. This eventually resulted in this year’s in-person, multiple-college exchange to the College of Nursing for an up-close look at how UF’s DNP program curriculum is designed and implemented.
The exchange visitors’ favorite part about their tour? Getting to think of new ways they could bring their stateside insights back to Brazil — and make a lasting difference.
“We have the power to transform health care in Brazil through this role,” said Maria de Fatima Vattimo, PhD, RN, associate professor and associate dean of the College of Nursing at the University of São Paulo. “I will never forget that nurses need to be leaders to make change, and we are excited to play our part in helping reshape health policy to formally include the advanced practitioner.”