UT Austin School of Nursing hosts exchange students from Kenya

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December 13, 2023
Mercy Chepkemoi (4th from the left) and Wilson Kimutai (1st from the left) with their classmates at UT Austin.

The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing welcomed, for the first time, two exchange students from Moi University in Kenya. Mercy Chepkemoi and Wilson Kimutai, fourth-year students at Moi University School of Nursing & Midwifery, visited the UT Austin School of Nursing for six weeks. 

The School of Nursing’s relationship with the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital was initiated by the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), a partnership between Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, North American universities including UT Austin, and the Kenyan Government. 

In July 2023, the President’s Award for Global Learning took 13 UT Austin undergraduate students, among them two students in nursing, and Associate Professor Julie Zuñiga, PhD, MSN, RN, to Kenya as part of the AMPATH Consortium’s global collaboration. The School built bilateral exchange into the project and was able to use funds from the award for support. 

“Having a connection to the school in Kenya means that our students can have real-life experiences with global health,” Zuñiga said. “Finding the similarities between us and Kenya adds to the global profession of nursing. We are able to elevate the visibility of nurses and nursing students from both schools. With my Kenyan colleagues, we are creating nursing leaders for not just Texas or Kenya but for the world.” 

In Kenya, Chepkemoi and Kimutai had the privilege of collaborating with the School of Nursing on a comprehensive wound care project as part of the President’s Award for Global Learning. In 2021, Kimutai also had the opportunity to participate in the School of Nursing’s three-week online course on intrapartum care. 

During their visit in Austin, Chepkemoi and Kimutai attended various classes, observed the simulation labs and visited the School of Nursing’s Family Wellness Center. They had the privilege of presenting their findings from the wound care project at the Global Health conference at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. 

“I intend to learn and develop my research techniques so that I can become a great researcher in the future,” Chepkemoi said. “I am impressed by how the School of Nursing is passionate about research, and I hope to gain research skills and contribute to positively changing the world together.” 

They also worked closely with Zuñiga on systematic reviews and qualitative research methodology. 

“This particularly has enlightened and broadened my research skills and knowledge, as it has allowed me to connect with experts in systematic review and research, thus gaining insights into the latest advancement in research,” Kimutai said. “I've had the privilege of being involved in global health classes, which provided me with valuable insights into the challenges and solutions in healthcare on a global scale. These classes have broadened my perspective on nursing and healthcare practices, allowing me to appreciate the importance of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration.” 

“I hope to leave Austin with a broader understanding of nursing practices and health care systems — locally and globally,” Kimutai said. “This experience has allowed me to cultivate valuable connections with peers and mentors, which will undoubtedly shape my future nursing career.” 

This opportunity was significant and beneficial for Chepkemoi and Kimutai, and they thoroughly enjoyed their time at the School of Nursing. Their immersion in the city of Austin’s life was a blend of academia, culture and Texas heritage, accentuated by the thrill of Texas Longhorn football games, as well as Austin’s culinary delights. It has certainly broadened their perspectives. 

“This experience symbolizes the peak of my nursing education and a chance to explore nursing from a global perspective,” Kimutai said. “Visiting the School of Nursing, amidst the Texan culture and the spirit of the Texas Longhorns, has deepened my appreciation for the nursing profession and broadened my horizons.” 

“I've had a wonderful time at the School of Nursing,” Chepkemoi added. “It has opened my eyes and broadened how I view nursing as a profession and practice. The students and faculty at the School have taught me how to value hard work and determination. My awareness of the scope of nursing and the fantastic opportunities it presents has increased. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity.”