A delegation from the University of León visited Bellevue College this week to continue work on a formal partnership that will provide for a dual degree program and new opportunities for student exchanges between the two institutions.
The partnership will initially focus on a collaboration between the two nursing programs, with a first-of-its-kind pilot program in Washington state to integrate León’s nursing curriculum into Bellevue’s associate degree in nursing.
Bellevue College nursing students will be able to earn community health hours in Spain and pick up valuable Spanish-language skills that can be put to use here in the Puget Sound. BC officials also envision students in other programs, such as World Languages, as well as faculty, participating in exchanges.
For the University of León, the pilot exchange will provide its nursing students with the opportunity to earn an associate degree and take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Exam) to become a Registered Nurse (RN) before returning to Spain to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This novel dual degree will enable the Spanish students to work as a nurse in the United States, Spain and the rest of the European Union.
The exchange will allow more Spanish-speaking nursing students to train at healthcare organizations in the Puget Sound region, providing valuable service to the Latino population.
“There’s a tremendous need for healthcare providers who can communicate with Spanish-speaking patients in our community. It’s critically important for nurses and patients to understand each other in order to provide the best care possible,” said Carolina Lucero, senior vice president of Seattle-based Sea Mar Community Health Centers, where BC plans to begin placing some of its nursing students in clinical rotations.
“At Bellevue College, we’re constantly looking for innovative ways to broaden our students’ perspectives and introduce them to learning experiences that will make them more competitive in the job market. It’s also beneficial for us as a college to continually look beyond the Eastside and the state of Washington, as the economy continues to become much more global,” said Kevin McCarthy, Ph.D., dean of the Health Sciences, Education and Wellness Institute at BC, who served as BC’s lead representative in the discussions.
McCarthy and Sybil Weber, a member of the BC nursing faculty, visited the University of León in early September to sign a memorandum of understanding between the institutions, meet with members of the nursing faculty and other university officials, and visit the university hospital where students complete clinical rotations.
Representing the University of León during this week’s visit were: José Luis Chamosa, vice-rector of International Relations; Nélida Fernández, dean of the School of Health Sciences; and Ángela Calle, nursing faculty with the School of Health Sciences.
The move toward a partnership began when Luis Fernando Esteban, the honorary consul for Spain in the state of Washington, with deep ties in both regions, approached Bellevue College about developing a relationship with the University of León’s nursing program. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen initially began discussions back in 2010 to establish a formal partnership between BC and University of León. The dialogue continued in 2011.
Bellevue College’s nursing program began in 1967, and is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC). Each year, the program graduates approximately 60 to 65 students, the majority of whom go on to serve patients in positions at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations in the Puget Sound region.
A photo of the delegation working with BC staff can be downloaded at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bellevuecollege/8231322260/.