Visiting USAC professor involves students in Costa Rica health initiative

Research project on music in the workplace helps students examine stress levels in healthcare setting

4/10/2013 - By: Stephany Kirby
Aramburu Alegría and Orvis Nursing Students Aramburu Alegría and her five students at the Employee Health Fair in the Hospital Carlos Luis Valverde Vega, where they conducted research on stress among hospital employees. From left to right: Natasha Heller, Zaena Tessema, Christine Aramburu Alegría, Kate Walsh, Kathryn Authier and Marissa Gastelle.

University of Nevada, Reno students traveled to San Ramon, Costa Rica as a part of the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) program, where they were given the opportunity to conduct health research in the Hospital Carlos Luis Valverde Vega. Assistant Professor in the Orvis School of Nursing, Christine Aramburu Alegría, led five students in a research project at the Universidad de Costa Rica, examining stress levels among staff members at the hospital and their receptiveness to music in the workplace as a means of reducing stress.

USAC is a non-profit study abroad organization made up of 33 U.S. Member Universities, including the University of Nevada, Reno, where the USAC Central Office is located. The organization provides university students with affordable study abroad programs with 41 locations in 26 countries. Students are able to attend universities in other countries, providing them with a chance to study different cultures and learning techniques through classes, fieldtrips and hands-on experiences.

The students surveyed employees with different shifts and departments and found moderate to high levels of stress among employees and positive receptivity to ambient music. The students then made recommendations for the future, including deciding upon location, type and volume of the music. Through this project, students gained experience in collaboration, survey creation, data collection and analysis and report writing.

"I genuinely feel like I have a better understanding of healthcare in America and around the world," Marissa Gastelle, a student from the program, said. "I am approaching my future career and graduate school plans in a different way than I had been previously, specifically because of the new focus I have on disparities and the like."

This opportunity also allowed students to participate in an employee health fair at the hospital, where they educated staff on back health by demonstrating stretching and posture exercises. Additionally, the students received honors credit while gaining hands-on experience.

"Though I had been in several public health classes before this one, my view of the world's health care and health disparities has broadened significantly because of this course," Kathryn Authier, another student from the program, said.

Aramburu Alegría has been invited to present a paper about the experience in Costa Rica at the 42nd Biennial Convention, Nov. 16-20, in Indianapolis, Ind.. The Biennial Convention is an annual convention for the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Find out more about travel and education opportunities, like this one, through USAC.


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