Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden Students visit United Nations to Present Global Health Research

Rutgers-Camden nursing students stand outside the United Nations in New York City.

Rutgers-Camden nursing students stand outside the United Nations in New York City.

At the United Nations, world leaders are making concerted efforts to improve healthcare, eradicate poverty, create a sustainable environment, and improve access to education, among other critical global issues.

Rutgers University–Camden nursing students recently had a chance to offer their own solutions to improve upon these issues by presenting original research posters at United Nations headquarters in New York City, where ambassadors, delegates, and distinguished representatives meet daily to discuss similar efforts.

“This is a great opportunity, to come here and think about these issues as we prepare to go into the healthcare field,” says Briana Entricken, a student in the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden’s accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program.

Entricken is one of 23 students in the accelerated degree program who made the trip to the United Nations on April 13. The program provides students with an opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing after earning a degree in a different discipline.

The cohort of 23 students that traveled to the United Nations has been together since January 2014 and will complete the 15-month accelerated program in May. The trip to New York was scheduled as part of the “Nursing Leadership and Management” course.

“Nurses are being invited to sit at the decision-making table and be part of the conversation on finding solutions to problems that affect people worldwide,” says Patricia Sayers, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden who teaches the course. “A window of opportunity for our students has opened at the United Nations.”

Earlier this year, Sayers and Marian Nowak, also an assistant professor of nursing at Rutgers–Camden, were appointed United Nations delegates by the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medio-Social Assistants (CICIAMS).

“Nurses are on the front line of worldwide health problems and in many cases are the sole providers of treatment and care,” Sayers says. “Patient care is going to make a difference in prevention and treatment of so many of these problems.”

Students present a research poster at the United Nations.

Students present a research poster at the United Nations.

As United Nations delegates, Sayers and Nowak participate in conferences and workshops centered on global health care and serve as advisers in the development of various projects to help address the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals.

Those goals are: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV, AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and create a global partnership for development.

The students in the accelerated nursing degree program were tasked with working in groups to research one of those issues and find ways to meet the goals proposed by the United Nations. They presented their findings to their classmates during the visit and following a tour of the U.N., which included a stop in the General Assembly Hall, the primary meeting room of representatives of the U.N.’s 193 member states.

“These are important issues and the hope is that they get more attention globally so solutions can be found and implemented,” says Allison Giegerich, an Egg Harbor Township resident whose group project focused on decreasing deaths among newborns and children under five years old by providing more vaccinations for treatable illnesses.

Shawn Cavalier, a Burlington City resident who earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Rutgers–Camden, says, “It’s exciting to walk through the U.N. and know that you’re here with delegates who have their own perspective and are working toward goals that will solve problems.”

Cavalier’s group project took a look at ways to prevent and raise awareness of traffic accidents, which are prevalent in low and middle income countries. A third group researched prescription drug abuse around the world.

“It’s important for students to see that nurses have an impact on a global platform and it enables them to see how government and healthcare works together,” Nowak says. “It also allows them to integrate their past experiences in another discipline with their nursing experience to gain unique insight into community and world health.”

United Nations member states are in the midst of considering broader Millennium Development Goals for beyond 2015 as the targets for current goals are expected to be reached by the end of the year. A new set of goals will bring new issues to light, which could mean more opportunities for Rutgers–Camden nursing students to research and share their own ideas.

“We’d like to continue this and bring nursing students to the United Nations every year,” Nowak says. “It fits in with our overall experiential learning mission, and we’re encouraging them to think outside the box and come up with their own creative solutions.”

For more information about the Accelerate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, visit

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