This post is written by 2nd year MEPN, and guest writer, Natalie Marsh
Two weeks after returning from our incredible trip to South Korea, MEPN students were excited to welcome our South Korean Buddies from Chung-Ang University, Seoul to the University of San Diego! Our buddies stayed for 11 days and were able to experience both San Diego and (for some) even Disneyland! After being welcomed to USD’s campus by Dean Georges, Dr. Marsh, and the MEPN faculty and students, the buddies spent their days touring many of San Diego’s hospitals and attending lectures about healthcare in the United States.
During our immersion in South Korea, we were amazed at the many differences between Korean medicine and our own familiar hospitals. After visiting Sharp Memorial Hospital, UCSD Hillcrest, and Sharp Coronado Hospital, our buddies agreed- there are many differences! During our Farewell Dinner at La Gran Terraza on USD’s campus, one of our wonderful buddies reflected on her biggest takeaway from these tours by commenting on how she appreciated that hospitals in San Diego focus on supporting the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of their nurses. They took note of the drastically higher nurse retention rate in San Diego compared to their hospitals in Korea, where about 40% of nurses move away from the bedside within the first five years of their career. She shined a light on the importance of self-care within nursing and said, “They (Sharp Coronado) love their nurses!”
Our buddies were also surprised to see the amount of children there are everywhere they went in California. During our visit to Seoul, we learned a lot about the country’s low fertility rate, which is expected to drop below 1.0 births per woman in 2019. This, among many other factors, contributes to Korea’s “aging population”, which is a natural driving force in the structure of Korea’s healthcare system. The buddies were amazed to see so many children and infants here- both in our hospitals and in the “stroller parking” during their trip to Disneyland!
Second year MEPN, Natalie Mata, reflected, “Welcoming our Korean buddies into our school and our country has been such a gift, especially after they treated us so kindly and with such open arms during our visit to Seoul! It has been a privilege to learn from them, and I am grateful for the dialogue we have now entered into about healthcare efficiencies.” As a program, the MEPNs at USD are looking forward to our continued relationship with the nursing school at Chung Ang University, and are incredibly grateful for our new Korean friendships made along the way.