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Kuznia and Singh in New Delhi
Nursing student Magdalene Kuznia (left) and Jayaa Singh, MBA '04, in India. (Image courtesy of Magdalene Kuznia.)

Broadening student experience with global partners in nursing

By Mandira Banerjee
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Nursing undergraduate Magdalene Kuznia (above, left) knew her internship in India would be an adventure. It was all the better when she was able to work with fellow Wolverine Jayaa Singh, MBA ’04 (above, right).

Kuznia on a camel

Magdalene Kuznia finds time for a little fun during her studies in India. (Image courtesy of Magdalene Kuznia.)

Singh is founder of the Salokaya Faculty of Health Sciences, home to the Salokaya College of Nursing, in New Delhi. The school recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with U-M’s School of Nursing, signaling an increasing focus on global experience for emerging healthcare practitioners.

It was during a Global Projects course in her second year at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business that Singh conceived of founding the college. While on a trip home to India, she had observed an alarming exodus of nurses to other countries, and an overall shortage of nurses worldwide. As the idea for the school crystallized, Singh sought to create an institution that would deliver more than just academics.

“Salokaya not only imparts world-class education to young girls in India but also contributes to the empowerment of women,” she says. “With each girl we teach and train at our school we help teach an entire family.”

Salokaya Faculty Health Sciences comprises three colleges: nursing, allied health sciences, and global education. The flagship College of Nursing offers two degree programs, the R.N.-equivalent diploma in general nursing and midwifery as well as the auxiliary nursing and midwifery diploma that roughly equates to an associate’s degree in the U.S.

Connections

Singh approached U-M’s School of Nursing in 2012 when she was introduced through her former MBA faculty adviser and Ross professor Len Middleton. He also serves on the advisory board for Salokaya.

“A general MoU was established to open the door for possible collaborations,” says Leslie Davis, director of global outreach at the School of Nursing. “But we had nothing specific at that point.”

The first opportunity for a U-M student to benefit from the partnership came this past summer when Kuznia, an undergraduate nursing student, approached Davis with an interest in going to India. Davis informed Kuznia about the Summer in South Asia Fellowship, which is offered by the Center for South Asian Studies. She suggested Salokaya as a possible destination.

Read more about Kuznia’s experience
“I put Magdalene in touch with Jayaa, and the two of them developed the idea and the project together,” Davis says.

Singh not only welcomed Kuznia to India but also opened her home and guided her experience throughout. Kuznia visited public and private hospitals and nongovernmental organizations during the fellowship, often demonstrating introductory nursing procedures.

“Magdalene is very mature girl willing to try out new cultures and experiences,” Singh says.

To your health

For Singh, it has been a roller coaster ride setting up a new institute in India and dealing with the growing pains. But it has been an adventure, she says.

“The journey has been immensely satisfying as we watch our students transform from timid young girls to confident nurses ready to serve the community,” she says. “This makes everything well worth the effort.”

Singh’s partnership with Michigan is evolving too. The School of Nursing is preparing to integrate Salokaya into an Electronic Community of Practice (ECoP) being created for the core undergraduate course, “Community Health Nursing” (N456). This project began in 2012 with the pilot of a shared virtual classroom that connected students with peers in Leogane, Haiti. Instructors Norma Sarkar and Rosemary Ziemba are now working with health informatics expert Patricia Abbott to develop and expand the ECoP. Amber Dallwig will incorporate Salokaya students into her clinical section of the course, as Sarkar has done with students in Haiti.

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“Salokaya will be our next virtual partner in winter 2014,” Davis says. In fact, the entire class (including students at other partner schools) will benefit from the learning through a course blog, which will help broaden students’ understanding of the concepts of community and population health.

Salokaya classroom

A classroom at the Salokaya College of Nursing. (Image courtesy of Salokaya Faculty of Health Sciences.)

It’s not the outcome Singh first envisioned when she enrolled at Ross as a food technologist with plans to earn an MBA and move up in management. “When I came to [the University] I had a risk-averse and conservative outlook,” she says.

That all changed once she made the decision to found the college. Suddenly she was an entrepreneur—navigating a complex bureaucracy, acquiring funding, buying land, and “getting the building up.” Salokaya graduated its first class of students in spring 2010, and Singh looks forward to more international exchanges with U-M students like Kuznia.

“The partnership with the University of Michigan started when I joined the Ross School of Business and it stays as a lifelong relationship,” she says.

 

Mandira Banerjee

Mandira Banerjee

MANDIRA BANERJEE is the India communications manager at Michigan News, the University's central news service. Follow her on Twitter: @mgoIndia.