Six Ukrainian students from the Medical University of Bukovyna had the opportunity to observe U.S. medical practices for two weeks beginning July 6 through UVU’s nursing exchange program.

Gary Measom, an associate professor in the nursing department, and Mina Wayman associate professor of nursing and chair of the Ukraine program at UVU, started the nursing exchange program two years ago at the suggestion of the mayor’s office of Salt Lake City

The four medical students, one nursing student and one medical technology student were able to shadow medical professionals at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Salt Lake City chose Chernivtsi, Ukraine as the base for the exchange program because they are sister cities. Medical supplies and equipment have been sent there in hopes of stimulating further economic development.

“Right now the doctors and nurses aren’t respected, they make less money than teachers,” Wayman said. “Those in the medical field often work multiple jobs to supplement their income. This medical university is trying to improve the reputation of nurses especially, they are going to start a masters program in the fall.”

The responsibilities of Ukrainian nurses differ from those of U.S. nurses in that, because they have fewer specialists, their nurses take the full brunt of general healthcare duties. There is also a doctor available at all times which means the nurses aren’t able to call the shots.

UVU nursing students who take advantage of the exchange program in Ukraine are able to participate in minor hospital procedures, with the majority of their time spent observing Ukrainian medical professionals.

“The world has gotten smaller plus we take care of a lot of clients from all over the world. We need to have some understanding of cultural diversity,” Wayman said. “Plus our healthcare systems effect each other, the swine flu is a great example of a worldwide issue. We are working diligently to develop a global health perspective for our students.”

The Ukraine practices socialized medicine, and although they have the same general knowledge because they are studying the same concepts, they don’t have the equipment, supplies or technology that the U.S. has access to.

“We see a different system, they see a different system, so we are both benefiting each other,” Wayman said.