The preferential partnership between Stellenbosch University (SU) and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium has been strengthened in the form of a nursing master's internship in the FMHS department of Nursing and Midwifery.
The master's internship for student mobility was initiated in 2018 with one management master's between the FMHS' Dr Guin Lourens and Phillip Moons, a professor of Healthcare and Nursing Science at KU Leuven's Department of Public Health and Primary Care. Applications to SU have since increased.
“Our first student was Yasmina Bellon – who bravely applied to the newly established partnership," said Lourens. “She did a non-clinical masters in the field of healthcare/nursing service management and I was assigned her mentor. The placement covered one module of her masters. This year we rolled out to include six-week internships in management, midwifery and primary care co-ordinated by myself, and Dr Doreen Kaura and Danene Kitshoff, both from the department of Nursing and Midwifery.
“Four master's students – one focusing on midwifery, another on primary care (clinical masters) and two nursing service management (non-clinical masters) – enrolled in the programme this year.
“The students arrived on 29 January and returned to Belgium on March 16."
According to Lourens, the students took part in a 30-working day internship which is a 15-credit module towards completion of their master's degree in nursing at KU. “They were allocated a mentor and set objectives for the time here aligned to the experience we were able to give them in respective fields of nursing. They were tasked with various activities to master, including giving presentations, policy development, assistance with practical exams in their field of expertise and were also able to shadow their mentors and other nursing role models. They also assisted with arranging the department's open day.
When they weren't working, the students enjoyed exploring Cape Town doing tourist activities.
Lourens said all the interns reported that they had an excellent experience at the university.
“The pilot internship went well in 2018 and it was rewarding to see the roll up in 2019 to include two clinical master's internships in primary care and midwifery."
The highlights included seeing the students grow in confidence and identify possibilities for their future disciplinary selves.
"The social highlight was learning about the South African braai, and every Wednesday they had a braai at the international lodge at the Tygerberg campus. There was also a farewell function at the end of their internship."
As one returning intern put it: “It's been over a week since I left South Africa and I must say that it was hard to say goodbye. I enjoyed my stay and your mentoring. It really was a great opportunity!“
According to Lourens, the department hopes to continue collaborating on internships with KU and is in ongoing discussions with the university to expand the programme.
Caption: Dr Guin Lourens with student interns from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium at the FMHS open day.