Nursing students present a virtual global learning program at MUSC Innovation Week

Center for Global Health
April 25, 2022

Each year, the MUSC community has an opportunity to present critical advancements in research and educational programs as part of Innovation Week. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ingenuity and creativity have been critical in evolving strong student-centered research and education programs - especially in the field of global health education. 

During the upcoming MUSC Innovation Week (April 25-29), a group of College of Nursing students and Associate Professor Suparna Qanungo, Ph.D. will present their successful global health pilot program “Innovative Virtual Global Health Program for Nursing Students”. This pilot funded through the College of Nursing Falks-Griffin Endowment funds highlights how an academic program overcame the barriers of international travel restrictions on global health education and opened up new opportunities for the future. 

Nursing students assist a patient in India. 
Nursing students assist patients in India during an in-person global health experience.

The MUSC College of Nursing offers in-person global health experiences through the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children (FIMRC). However, travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic prevented nursing students from participating in global health educational trips. In response, faculty and administrators developed a customized virtual global health program for nursing students to gain valuable global health experience during and beyond the pandemic times.

“This virtual global health experience was humbling and has taught me to be appreciative of the opportunities I have been given; it has opened my eyes to what others are going through around the world and how I can help from a distance." - Saddie Sofia, ABSN student  

Piloted in November 2021 with six students, the program contained tailored online modules on diverse healthcare topics like prevalent diseases, social determinants of health, global healthcare systems/policies, maternal-child health, mental health, pediatric disabilities, global health ethics, and leadership in cultural competency. Students completed real-time case study reviews and virtual tours with FIMRC site staff in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua as well as live clinical observation and telehealth consults for primary care and mental health in Costa Rica and Ecuador. To demonstrate acquired knowledge, students completed a program information poster and a Spanish-language nutritional brochure for South American site initiatives.

Students participate in telehealth discussion. 
Pilot program nursing students participate in real-time clinical observation of a telehealth primary care consult in Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Travel restrictions are not the only barrier for students to pursue global health experiences abroad. Prior to the pandemic, few nursing students had the time or financial resources for global travel. The time constraints of the condensed Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program make in-person participation especially difficult for nursing students. The pandemic has accelerated the use of remote technology and highlighted how educators can use virtual programming to strive toward greater equity in access to global knowledge. While not a replacement for the benefits gained from an in-person experience, a virtual global health program is a unique mode of international participation that can expand access to those who may not otherwise be able to participate.


Global education can be both personally and professionally enriching for students in all disciplines. A vast majority of nursing pilot students (96.6%) expressed satisfaction with the experience and felt they obtained a greater competence in nursing across borders, inspiration to serve those underserved, and a better understanding of the unique role of nurses in mentorship and clinical care for communities. Students also expressed awareness and respect for cultural beliefs and the impact of those beliefs on health and care.  

"CON-FIRMC's virtual Global Health program opened my eyes to the current state of global health inequality and inspired me to strive toward sustainable and meaningful change in my own community and beyond." - Rachel Nichols, ABSN student 

Read more about campus global health opportunities at MUSC College of Nursing and MUSC Center for Global Health.

Innovative Virtual Global Health Program for Nursing Students

Headshot of Suparna

Suparna Qanungo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Nursing
Virtual Global Health Program for Nursing Students Course Instructor



Headshot of Courtney Soll.Courtney Soll
Nursing Student




Headshot of Kate Ague-Kneeland.Kate Ague-Kneeland
Nursing Student




Headshot of Kezhia NewmanKezhia Newman
Nursing Student




Headshot of Madison Bynum.Madison Bynum
Nursing Student




Headshot of Rachel Nichols.Rachel Nichols
Nursing Student




Headshot of Saddie Sofia.Saddie Sofia
Nursing Student