Season 5 - Episode 524
International experiences are an integral part of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON). From missions projects around the globe to study abroad opportunities, students grow as professionals as they serve those around them. In this Baylor Connections, Lori Spies, tenured associate professor and missions coordinator in Baylor Nursing, takes listeners around the world to locations where LHSON students and faculty can be found.
Derek Smith:Hello and welcome to Baylor Connections, a conversation series with the people shaping our future. Each week, we go in depth with Baylor leaders, professors, and more discussing important topics in higher education, research, and student life. I'm Derek Smith. Today, we are talking about the international footprint at Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing visiting today with Lori Spies tenured Associate Professor and Missions Coordinator in the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Dr. Spies coordinates global endeavors for the school and facilitates student and faculty engagement in initiatives around the globe advancing the commitment to cultivate opportunities for all interested students and faculty to participate in global outreach through a variety of ways, study abroad, missions trips, or research and scholarly experiences. A widely published specialist in global health and capacity building in healthcare providers, she also is a member of the practice committee for the International Council of Nurses Advanced Practice Nursing Network and is on the nurses' advisory council of Nurses International. She's a past president of the North Texas Nurse Practitioners and a co-founder of the North Texas African Health Initiative. It's a busy and exciting time for students and faculty during the summer months at the School of Nursing and really appreciate you taking the time to join us today, Lori Spies. Thanks so much for joining us.
Lori Spies:Thank you. It's great to be here.
Derek Smith:No, it's great to have you here and from the Louise Herrington School of Nursing campus in Dallas, you've got people traveling all over to the state, the world this summer. If we were to take a look at people's calendars, either in the recent weeks or ahead, where are few places we might find your colleagues and students at right now?
Lori Spies:We have students in Zambia right now in Ndola, Zambia working with our partner university and in the community there. We also have a team, I think, they are on their way home as we speak from the Rio Grande Valley working with refugees and healthcare providers at the border. We have a team preparing to go to Bengaluru, India and they'll work with our partner institution there comprehensively doing capacity building, education, and outreach into the community or the city. We have some local activities being planned and undergoing and getting ready to go to London a little later in the summer for a study abroad and also for Rwanda for a global health in Africa study abroad. So we are all over and yeah, having a good time being out in the world.
Derek Smith:Well, great experiences and certainly, great service opportunities for students and faculty. I'm curious, knowing your role as missions coordinator, what is this time of year like for you and your colleagues? Because I know you're working to promote not just safe but also very productive trips that are very impactful for your students.
Lori Spies:Right. We spend a good bit of time trying to make sure that we have a good fit. We, of course, work closely with the Center for Global Engagement, BU Missions, the Global Safety and Security to make sure that where we are going is actually a safe environment. But we also try to get a good handle on what the people that we work with are hoping that we'll do and to make sure that we can safely do that. That we're both qualified to do it and that we can do it in a safe way. We want the needs that we meet to be relevant to our students as future nurses and future advanced practice nurses. So it's about finding that good fit, keeping up with the news, and listening to our learned colleagues on the global issues that they're aware of.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dr. Lori Spies and I want to ask you about what makes a good fit. But first, to set that up a little bit, we talked about it right at the top, there's a lot of ways that students can participate in international opportunities at the School of Nursing. How would you describe the central role of missions? Even beyond that, some of those international opportunities, within the Louise Herrington School of Nursing.
Lori Spies:I think that, and you mentioned, it's my goal that every student that's interested in doing this work is able to do that. I think as a Christian university, having these opportunities is really us walking the walk, right? We can actually go and work alongside people in countries where there is great need and different cultures and that we can partner with our colleagues on the ground to address those needs. I think it helps our students learn about cultural humility, learn about working across diverse populations, that's what we do in the hospital and that's increasingly a part of this global world in which we live. So it provides those hands on skills for nursing and advanced practice nursing students so that they can meet needs but also develop both spiritual and professional skills in those settings.
Derek Smith:You talked about finding the right fits. You all have been doing this for a while so you've got a good process that demonstrates the results, demonstrate that, what goes into finding the right fit that checks some of those boxes that you talk about?
Lori Spies:I think some of it is serendipity. I think that we meet people through our work or people contact us. So I think just coming across those institutions are... Sometimes it's just all God's plan. Our job is then to vet, is this someone that we want to be associated with? At the bottom line, there are just places that we won't go and people that it wouldn't be prudent for us as a university to take our students to work with. So we want to be mindful of where can we meet a great need and where can we provide our students and our faculty and staff with a safe and meaningful experience. As a nursing school, we want to focus on health. Now, of course, we're doing all sorts of things. The refugee center in Rio Grande Valley, they may be sorting clothes or cleaning a warehouse but we also want them to be able to provide health education to a target audience. That skill set that we are spending our days as faculty educating our students to do, what great way for them to see, "Wow, this is how it works in another country. This is the work that I can do with this nursing skill, this nursing knowledge to really glorify God at these diverse settings."
Derek Smith:This is Baylor Connections. We are visiting with Dr. Lori Spies, tenured Associate Professor and Missions Coordinator in Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Want to ask you a little bit about some of the specific trips this summer, more in just a moment, but first I'm curious, when did you begin in this current role as missions coordinator and how have you seen those opportunities grow over the years?
Lori Spies:I just love that question. Thank you. I came to Baylor, joined the faculty in 2004, and naively went to my boss and said, "I think that we need to have more mission experiences." So in 2004, we had a one short trip, less than a week over Christmas break to Juarez. The students stayed in El Paso and across to Juarez. It's a beautiful trip. It was the legacy trip at the time but I thought that it wasn't enough. Ended up leading a successful trip in the spring of 2005, really, before I knew what I was doing, right? For graduate students in particular, to do a clinical immersion in Uganda. The trip was a success. I led that for a decade. But when I came home from that trip, the dean at the time said, "Would you be interested in being the Mission Coordinator and helping us to expand and grow these type of outreach activities?" It's been a great blessing. I really feel and have felt like that was why I was called to work at Baylor. It was an unexpected turn in my career to be on faculty. And yeah, so since that time of that legacy trip to Mexico, we've had some through hard work and some through it takes a village, a lot of great colleagues and collaborators, we've really expanded to significant outreach on several continents in lots of countries.
Derek Smith:Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.
Lori Spies:It's been exciting.
Derek Smith:That's great. Well, let's talk about some of those right now. We mentioned at the top of the program some of those and I want to ask you, we'll just go down the line here and you can just paint a little picture about what each of these are. You mentioned along the border, the Rio Grande Valley, what are some of the things that led to that trip coming together and what has stood out to you about those opportunities for students to serve?
Lori Spies:I love the Rio Grande valley trip. I think we've been doing it for seven or eight years. Originally, I think we called it the McAllen trip because we went to McAllen, we worked with The Sisters of Charity and some community opportunities to provide healthcare education and every year it's grown and expanded. Our students have really... What's going on at the border is all over the news. Healthcare needs of refugees is central to many of what our graduates will do. So to be able to like, "Here's what this looks like. Here's the face behind that news headline," so powerful. Rio Grande Valley was also, during the midst of COVID when we couldn't leave the country, we were able to with amazing cooperation from the support from Baylor Missions to do a vaccine focused mission in the Rio Grande Valley. So we were able to take a team of nursing students, actually enroll them in a course, provide them with education, and they were able to help deliver the vaccine and just meet that need during the pandemic. It was a real special thing to be able to be a part of. I love the Rio Grande Valley because it is that truly cross-cultural. We have to have bilingual nurses, we have to have translators, but it's just a few hours down the road. I think it's amazing that our students get to do it.
Derek Smith:Well, certainly, South Texas is a great trip. You mentioned India. Tell us about that.
Lori Spies:India is probably our poster child for successful and comprehensive interventions. We have spent some mission opportunities in Hyderabad but our big focus right now is in Bengaluru at the Rebekah Ann Naylor School of Nursing and the Baptist Hospital there. One of our faculty, Dr. Shelby Gartner, has done significant work to get funding, to build infrastructure. They've done regional simulation workshop. They've worked out in the communities to provide education. It's the exemplar of research and service and capacity building because we work with faculty to help them build their skills there and it's ongoing and active. Yeah. We had a student get a Fulbright to go there so it's been that rich mission experience. In the small world scheme of things, we had a faculty, since retired, who was the first director of nurses for the hospital and I think that was back in the 60s. It's fun and it comes around full circle and now, we really are helping them grow and expand and meet the needs through Christian caring in a transparently Christian outreach into the region of India.
Derek Smith:That's great. Visiting with Dr. Lori Spies and continuing, you mentioned Zambia, what will the students be doing there?
Lori Spies:Well, in Zambia, and I think that's an emerging front too. Right now, we have faculty and students there that are primarily working with the nursing students and nursing faculty at Northrise University. And then, out in the community, they work at community centers for at risk children. These are schools where either one or both parents are dead that provide feeding programs. Poverty in Zambia is bleak. And so, they... And the children will get medical attention if they're acutely ill but routine screening is unlikely to happen. We send teams in and make sure they are prepared to do this, to do health screening of, and it's literally hundreds and hundreds of orphans or vulnerable children. Kind of like we would have our children get a back to school physical, they are getting that back to school physical. Sometimes, that's identifying, "Here's an easy thing to treat. Oh, this child has asthma. He's going to do better if we can do this." Often, and because we work with strong local partners, we are able to refer people in if they need more help. We keep a running list and if a child needs that medicine for asthma or glasses or has something else, we're able to refer them into a local healthcare provider for that to be followed up on. We also, this year, the faculty going there was a family nurse practitioner and a simulation expert, simulation research, Dr. Kelly Rosler. So I anticipate, and they have a new nursing program at Northrise University, and I anticipate that Dr. Rosler will be initiating some projects to help them develop their simulation. Again, to build capacity so more nurses will be able to provide care across Zambia.
Derek Smith:You've mentioned Baylor faculty members on these trips. What do these trips require of faculty? Because obviously, this is an immersive experience for the students, that they're playing an important role in.
Lori Spies:Yeah. It's a pretty high demand, right? I mean, we ask our faculty to apply for this and some of the trips, we get more faculty than we can actually take. So our goal is to create a cadre of faculty and staff that can lead these trips so it takes time. They've got to go detail by detail of what they want to accomplish, how their gifts and talents match the needs of where they're going. And then, there's work all along the way, both in the details of the trip but in building that team. They have to be aware of, what are the safety issues? How do I, as a team leader, address that? How can I get these students from different classes of nursing students, graduate, undergraduate, how do I get them to work as a team? How do I encourage them to care for each other, right? That care for the caregiver, important in missions, important in nursing. So the team leader... We have just wonderful experts at the School of Nursing. And so, part of it is sharing, what worked when you went to India? How can we navigate this? So we provide training for the students and then also leader training. But a lot of that is, yeah, share with us your expertise and experience. We'll go over the policies and the procedures but you're going to be the expert in Zambia so how can we facilitate you being successful? So time, I think it has to be a calling. I think a lot of people are like, "Oh, I'd love to go to Zambia." "Well, it takes some work." "Oh, never mind." So I think it's being determined and, yeah, being willing to roll up your sleeves and be flexible and do the work that needs to be done.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dr. Laurie Spies and Dr. Spies, we head in the final couple of minutes. I want to ask you about a couple of other opportunities too, that go... You have the missions trips but you also have study abroad opportunities and partnerships with other institutions globally talking about the UK, Rwanda, The Gambia. Could you tell us about those as we wind down here?
Lori Spies:Sure. Let me add one to that list, if you don't mind.
Lori Spies:We have a partnership in Vietnam as well and that's one of the... Our faculty teach courses to the Nam Dinh Nursing University for graduate nursing degrees and we help educate nurses from all over Vietnam so that they can be teachers and leaders in nursing across the country. So that's an exciting opportunity that we do in person but we also did online during COVID. A new partnership that we have is in The Gambia with the Baylor College of Medicine. The Baylor College of Medicine has a longstanding initiative targeting Kanifing Hospital to reduce maternal morbidity. One of the populations that they work with is to educate nurses and midwives. And so, when we joined this partnership, we quickly identified, "That's really our expertise. We, as nurse faculty, can come along and provide that," so we identified the leading cause of maternal morbidity and the leading cause of neonatal mortality. We are providing training and education and we are inviting a colleague from the business school to join us because it's one thing to know that information but it's really important to feel empowered and enabled to put it in place. So this isn't how nurses in The Gambia normally do things, we want you to step out of your comfort zone so we want you to feel enabled to do that, to have that skill set. So I'm excited about that project. We're working on it. It will come to fruition in September. We have a longstanding study abroad to the UK. This has been offered every other year for, I think it's 16 years now and the early focus was on maternal and pediatric health. Now, it's really branching toward health systems and nursing leadership. It's a wonderful experience for undergraduate students that they can take as their elective just to really see nurses in a different environment, different type of healthcare system, and get to see another country in that part of the world a bit. The Global Health in Africa this year will be in Rwanda. That's an interdisciplinary with students from public health and nursing and then other pre-health disciplines or other health disciplines from the university. We will be doing... And then, that's an elective course. While on that trip, so in addition to study abroad like so many things at Baylor, right? It's a combination. We'll be doing service in the community and we're also starting a research project at the request of our partners in country to identify well-being issues in children. How can we help further the help? So yeah, a little bit everywhere. There's so much mission happens on study abroad and so much education and learning happens on mission that it's really a, well, so many hybrid opportunities. Very fortunate at the School of Nursing and across Baylor to have these great opportunities. I'm always pleased to see how our faculty and students rise to the occasion and make these great things happen.
Derek Smith:Absolutely. So many comprehensive opportunities and somewhat meaningful for students. Well, really appreciate you taking the time to share with us and paint a picture of all that's going on and proud of our nursing students and hoping for a really productive and a safe travel for them this summer that they can bring back to Waco or Dallas and really build on that. So thank you so much.
Lori Spies:Thank you. I appreciate it.
Derek Smith:Really appreciate you visiting. Dr. Lori Spies, tenured Associate Professor and Missions Coordinator in Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing, our guest today on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith. A reminder you can hear this and other programs online, baylor.edu/connections and you can subscribe to the program on iTunes. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections.