Minnesota Nursing magazine

A new perspective on women’s health

DNP students see familiar, new health challenges in Brazil
Brett Stursa

Nine students in the women’s health nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner specialties of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program immersed themselves in a variety of the health care settings throughout the port city of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil to gain an international perspective of health care during a practicum for the School of Nursing.

Group at homeDNP students and faculty discuss the connection between healing and spiritual beliefs in alternative health care with Mãe de Santo Makota Valdina, a leader in the Candomblé community.

While the school has a long tradition of global programming with prelicensure students, this was one of the first times the school offered the opportunity to doctoral students. “An international view of women’s health really enhances the DNP program,” said Clinical Assistant Professor Diana Drake, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC. “I really believe we are better providers if we’ve experienced a global view of health care.”

Melissa Jones, a women’s health nurse practitioner student, was eager to gain an international perspective on women’s health to expand her knowledge of diverse health care practices and approaches in different cultures. “I hope that by drawing on global women’s health experiences, in addition to my local women’s health experiences, I will be a more culturally competent health care provider,” Jones said.

While in Brazil, they made community home care visits and held a health fair in the Quilombo village. “The health fair was an incredible experience to interact with individuals from a completely different background than our own, yet so seamlessly be able to connect with them about their health,” said Jones.

Prison tourStudents tour the Penitentiary Lemps de Brito to get an understanding of health care in prison.

The students experienced alternative healing in the Candomblé tradition. They observed health care within the prison system and spoke with sex workers at Forca Feminina, a center that supports sex workers.

“We’re really looking at Afro-Brazilian women and what their experiences are,” said Drake.

Each student was given a fictitious patient case set in Brazil that was built and examined throughout the experience. They gave presentations on their experiences and patient cases after they returned from the 10-day practicum.

Screenings at health fairDNP students and faculty, along with a community nurse, provide hypertension and diabetes screenings during the Quilombo Community Health Fair.

While this was one of the doctoral level immersion offered by the School of Nursing, it won’t be the last. In March, a DNP practicum was offered in rural Honduras. Ten nurse practitioner students and two faculty went to Santa Lucia, Intibuca in Honduras, and Drake is already thinking about the next practicum in Brazil.

Home visitA woman waves goodbye to DNP students and a community agent after a home health care visit in the town of Cachoeira.


Woman standing at entrance

“We’re really looking at Afro-Brazilian women and what their experiences are.”

– Professor Diana Drake