Nicaragua and Nursing – Reflections Part I

The inception of the Nicaragua trip
I fell in love with public health nursing early on in my career. My focus was on high risk populations, which included people from various cultural backgrounds. When I was hired to teach at MSUM, I knew I wanted to carry that passion into an experience for our senior nursing students. My friend, a pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center, went on a yearly trip to Nicaragua with her medical students. Seeing this as a winwin educational opportunity for our nursing students, we connected and began the yearly trip to Nicaragua.

Initially, the lead organization we went with was ISLA. We are now under the umbrella of MEDICO. We focus our care in northern Nicaragua to the children with handicaps and their families. I have been taking students for 14 years now.

Why cultural care?
I grew up in a small town in southeast MN.
White and homogenous where Lutherans married Lutherans and Catholics married Catholics. Our big family outing was at Christmas time when we would go to downtown Minneapolis to shop and have a rare family meal at a restaurant.It was those once a year trips that triggered my curiosity for culture. Sad to say, it was the only time growing up that I saw people from a culture than my own.

When it came time for me to practice professional nursing, I was instantly drawn to the U of MN hospital which was well known as a teaching institution and quite diverse. After that position, I was drawn to public health nursing where I worked with cultures of rural, small town folks, Hutterite communities, Native Americans on two reservations, and the migrant Hispanic population.

As my career became focused on academics, my love of working with diverse populations stayed with me. This translated into being able to teach Transcultural nursing courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at MSU Moorhead. Early in my teaching career, I was given the opportunity to teach our final preceptorship course which is a capstone course where students demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout their education. I thoughtstudents could demonstrate those skills in settings outside the US,”which then lead to the yearly Nicaragua trip.

Jane Bergland, PhD, RN, CNE
School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership
Minnesota State University Moorhead


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