Global Skills Opportunity Project Takes Students to Uganda for Firsthand Clinical Experience

Last spring, Kiel Harvey, a fourth-year nursing student at Selkirk College joined classmates from Selkirk’s and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology’s Health and Human Services programs for a life changing six-week practicum at Sunrise Centre, a community in Uganda that is home to a school, medical clinic, birthing centre, and an outreach program.

The practicum was made possible by Global Skills Opportunity (GSO), the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Program that aims to empower post-secondary institutions to increase the participation of young Canadians—especially underrepresented students—in international learning opportunities both at home and abroad.

“Many students face barriers when it comes to studying abroad. One of the goals of this project is to help students overcome those barriers. We give special consideration to students with disabilities, of low income, and who self-identify as Indigenous,” says Emily Kandborg, Project Coordinator at Selkirk.

Eligible students have flights, accommodations, vaccinations, meals, and other expenses covered in addition to a $300–$500 honorarium.

“Having the chance to travel to Sunrise to work alongside clinic staff was a unique opportunity to develop relationships with people I wouldn’t regularly have the chance to build experiences with,” says Kiel. “To get intimately involved with health care delivery in Uganda really opened my eyes to the realities of the day-to-day life people are experiencing there,” he concludes.

Since returning home Kiel is working on a pre-departure workbook for the next cohort of students who are travelling to Sunrise this winter. The workbook will help students navigate ethical situations they may encounter as well as ensuring they are practicing safe care both for themselves and their patients.

The partnership with Sunrise will send two cohorts each year for the next five years.