President's Report Masthead
December 31, 2013

Turkish nursing students expand horizons at Decker School

Two nursing students in doctoral programs in Turkey, one from Istanbul University Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and the other from Koç University School of Nursing, spent the fall 2013 semester at Binghamton University, taking advantage of every opportunity they could while at the Decker School of Nursing.

Merdiye Sendir, a faculty member at the Istanbul University Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, had spent a semester at Binghamton as a visiting professor and was interested in having some of her students do the same. “When I decided to get an experience related to nursing education at an American University, I did comprehensive research,” said Sendir. “I got information about programs between the State University of New York and several of Turkey’s top universities. These dual-diploma programs were approved and recognized by the Higher Education Council of Turkey (YÖK).”

“Merdiye helped with some teaching, spent time in the simulation lab, sat in on classes, visited clinical sites and integrated herself into the faculty while she was here,” said Decker Dean Joyce Ferrario. “We had just gotten simulation equipment and she was very interested in ours.”

“I wanted to know more about simulation in nursing education and I also had opportunities to attend some undergraduate and graduate courses as well as clinical practices,” Sendir said. “I had great experiences with nursing education at Binghamton University and I’m working to reflect these experiences on nursing education at my home university.”

Enter Emine Aktaş and Pelin Karaçay, two Turkish students who met Sendir’s requirements: having good English language skills and TOEFL/IELTS exam scores, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, experience at the international level and a special interest in the Decker School’s educational programs. Both are also educators in Turkey.

“They registered and took courses which they will be transferring to their schools,” said Ferrario.

Both Karaçay and Aktaş said they are grateful for the opportunity to build relationships with Decker faculty and staff, in particular Ferrario, Atav, Carolyn Pierce, Gale Spencer, Sharon Bryant, Malgosia Krasuska, Patti Reuther, Pamela Stewart Fahs and Patrick Leiby and to become part of the student community in the Decker School.

Karaçay is in charge of the simulation laboratory at Koc University School of Nursing, so while at Binghamton she focused on the fundamentals of nursing and simulation, spending time in the Innovative Practice Center which houses a family of human patient simulators from newborn to pediatric to adult, as well as birthing simulators. “My goal was to learn from the program and build a knowledge base transferable to my career path,” said Karaçay. “I discussed simulation styles with Patti Reuther and compared practices. It was a good opportunity to take quantitative and qualitative research courses from your faculty who are expert about research. I found an opportunity to improve my ability to do research and to critique the articles in a correct way. In addition, I acquired more information about research methodologies in nursing that I hope that I can put into practice in my workplace and in my thesis.”

Karaçay took Advanced Health Systems and Public Policy which she credits with giving her the ability to think with a broad perspective, not just from the nursing perspective about healthcare systems in various countries.

“I made many international friends who are very friendly and I hope that we will be in touch with them forever,” Karaçay said. “I had heard and read about the quality of your education at the Decker School of Nursing and I lived this quality during the fall semester.”

The positive experiences that Sendir had at Binghamton provided Aktaş the encouragement she needed to apply to the Decker School, and she wasn’t disappointed with her decision. “The experience was better than what I had expected,” Aktaş said. “Participating in courses at the Decker School of Nursing provided an important contribution to my academic development related to public health nursing and matched exactly with what I would like to really learn about nursing.”

Aktaş took three courses while at Decker. “All of them were so helpful for me, especially the Advanced Quantitative and the Qualitative Methods for Nursing Research courses taught by experts about research because I learned nursing research methods and how to critique and write a research article. The information that I learned from the classes will be helpful for my academic career and I can easily give a shape to my PhD dissertation

For her community health nursing course, Aktaş had a chance to be a member of Binghamton University Healthy Campus Initiatives Committee. “I met many key people who have important roles around the campus,” she said. “It was really good and a surprising experience for me. The idea of the committee is really impressive; it was an honor for me to be aware of the committee’s activities and Binghamton University facilities.”

Aktaş is also a research assistant at Istanbul University Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing in its public health nursing department, so was interested in the teaching methods at the Decker School. “I was impressed with the academic staffs’ teaching methods and learned many things during my classes,” she said, noting that every class she took has made important contributions to her academic development. “I believe that my experience at Binghamton University will give insight to my colleagues and my future nursing students as I share the information and experiences with them.”

“Emine also really wanted to go to the American Public Health Association Congress in Boston in early November, so I sent her,” Ferrario said.

“As a public health nurse, I always wanted to attend to the APHA,” Aktaş said. “Attending was an amazing experience for my academic career. I met many public health professionals from around the world, and I learned about new developments related to public health issues.”

“Their leave from their school paid for nine credits of coursework, but we allowed them to sit in on any course they wanted to and they did. They went to the learning center for help writing papers. They were very proactive and took advantage of everything here,” Ferrario said.

“It’s so good for our students to have students like that in class with them, to hear about the different healthcare and educational systems,” Ferrario said. “You can’t buy that.”

What’s next? “We’re looking for exchange both ways,” said Ferrario.