Monday, January 6, 2014

Study Abroad: Expanding Healthcare Knowledge in Costa Rica

The Verrazano School is pleased to announce that Alexa Zuffante, Verrazano Class of 2014, has been selected as a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship recipient.  Alexa was awarded a scholarship to help support her winter intersession experience in San Jose, Costa Rica.  She will be contributing several blog entries about her study abroad experience this winter.  Read below for her introductory post.

It has finally hit me - in just a few days I will be in San Jose, Costa Rica studying abroad! Now that finals are over I am relieved and even more stoked to embark on this amazing journey to come. I am so excited that I forgot to introduce myself!  Sorry, let me start over!  

My name is Alexa Zuffante and I am a senior at the College of Staten Island. I anticipate graduating from the Baccalaureate program in the field of Nursing as a Verrazano student this spring. I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself to further my education. This study abroad opportunity allows me to excel both academically and personally. I feel the faculty-led Transcultural Nursing and Global Health Program would allow me to not only be ordinary, but to be extraordinary. I heard of this program through a Verrazano Extracurricular Learning Activity (VELA) event offered via The Verrazano School. Before the meeting came to an end, I knew I had to participate. Opportunities like this don’t come around often!  I immediately began the application that was due the following week.

At the present time, I am working for an ophthalmologist where I encounter many Spanish speaking patients. This course requires us to take a Spanish class. Although I am nervous about having to take Spanish, I know it will be beneficial. It will allow me to educate my patients with general medical knowledge, health promotion techniques, and basic medical terms. This course is designed for observation in three settings: a hospital, a clinic, and the community. I will be living with a host-family for three weeks. A what? - That’s right. I said a host-family. I know the idea seemed pretty scary to me at first too. I was happy when I found out I was staying with another student, Nicollette, who is a part of the program. She is also a senior in The Verrazano School at the College of Staten Island. I have also learned that an international dentistry student is staying with us as well- should be interesting!  The plan of staying with a host-family is to gain insight into a culture other than my own. By living with my host-family I will immerse myself in their culture and take what I learn to use it in my healthcare practice.

Familiarizing oneself with another person's culture or way of life will result in better patient outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and establish a trusting nurse-to-patient relationship. Through my two years as a nursing student, I have already witnessed how transcultural nursing is a trending factor in healthcare practice today. The patient population is growing more diverse in America and nurses should stay up-to-date with cultural competent care. Interestingly enough, Costa Rica’s healthcare system is rapidly emerging. This requires nurses, along with other healthcare professionals, to recognize, respect, and appreciate cultural differences in healthcare values, customs, and beliefs.

I believe that this once-in-a-life chance to go abroad will dramatically change not only my life but the residents of San Jose, Costa Rica. In just three short weeks I will make a difference. All in all I have learned a great deal throughout my time here at the College of Staten Island, but the major lesson learned here is that one can never know enough. I will return to the United States happy to sign the two letters I have honorably earned, Alexa Zuffante, RN.

Happy Holidays to all! The next time you will hear from me, I will already be in >70 degree weather! Jealous? ;)

Funds are available through a competitive application process to help support Verrazano student participation in study abroad programs.  Funds are made possible through the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Programs and the Center for International Service.  The deadlines to apply for a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship are October 1st for winter and spring study abroad programs and March 1st for summer and fall study abroad programs.  Awards range from $1000-$5000, and through the scholarship application process students are encouraged to clearly identify how the proposed study abroad experience supports the pursuit and achievement of their academic and professional goals and how the program would benefit their academic and personal growth.

For more information about the scholarship opportunity, please visit:



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