Monday, August 22, 2016

Advancing community-based health care

HPU Professor of Nursing Catharine Critz, Ph.D., CPNP, PMHS, APRN-Rx, at World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya founded in 1351, in Thailand    
Professor of Nursing Catharine Critz, Ph.D., CPNP, PMHS, APRN-Rx, who specializes in pediatric nursing, said she loves to travel and is very interested in and curious about global medicine.

“I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve always checked in and tried to investigate the state of pediatrics,” Critz said.

Guatemala, Kenya, and Thailand are among the many countries she has visited, and while traveling, Critz likes to engage in volunteer, hands-on care in local communities. She may provide immunizations, teach about breastfeeding, or work in an orphanage.   
This summer, Critz went to Thailand — her second trip to the country — as a participant in a CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar, “Community-Based Approaches to Healthcare: Thailand as a Case Study.” Critz applied for and received a grant from the HPU Study Abroad & International Exchange Programs Office to partially fund her seminar experience. She joined three faculty members from other U.S. universities for the approximately two-week program.

“It was a combination of lecture in the classroom at Khon Kaen University, and the other half of it was visiting community sites,” she said. “It really was a fabulous experience.”

CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar, “Community-Based Approaches to Healthcare: Thailand as a Case Study,” summer 2016 participants, with their faculty facilitator Supannee Promthet, Ph.D. (back row, far left)
Critz and her fellow program participants immersed themselves in studying about health promotion in Thailand. First, they learned about the overall health care system, which was followed by lectures on specific diseases associated with the areas they visited. The group then went into the field, visiting health care centers, families, and community clinics. They even had the chance to meet with the Minister of Health and chief hospital administrators.

A big takeaway for Critz was the opportunity to see how the national health care system of Thailand works in rural areas. There are community-based clinics called health-promoting hospitals.

“Not only do they see their community members for routine health care, but they train volunteers to work in the community,” she said. “One volunteer works with 10 families in the community and knows everything about them.”

The connection between health promotion and health care to individual families is extraordinary, Critz said, sharing the example of the volunteer her CIEE group met. This woman was recently named the region’s “Volunteer of the Year.” 

“Our volunteer has had HIV for 10 years, and originally in her community they were outcastes,” Critz said. “(Through this teaching education program), she goes out and does HIV training and everybody knows her. She’s on posters now.” 

HPU Professor of Nursing Catharine Critz, Ph.D., (fifth from left) with Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses at Khon Kaen Regional Hospital

Another outcome from Critz’s participation in this international seminar is building relationships with nursing faculty of Khon Kaen University. Critz has committed to assist a couple of these faculty members in an editorial capacity, helping them to get their research published in English. 

Critz’s students should also look forward to benefiting from what she learned in Thailand. Through pictures and recounting her firsthand experience — just as she has done with past travels — Critz will share with her students yet another culture and how they manage health care, especially pediatrics.

“Part of our mission in the College is to develop global citizens, global nurses,” she said. “Initially, I was reluctant to talk about (my travels and the state of health care in other countries), but the students are always fascinated. It brings a sharp reality to them.”   


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