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Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden partners with Semmelweis University in Hungary

The University's international relations were strengthened last month when Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Semmelweis University, the oldest medical school in Hungary on Sept. 10.

The memorandum is a formal collaboration that has strengthened the 30-year-old relationship between the two universities.

The chief facilitator of this agreement was Marie O’Toole, senior associate dean of faculty and student affairs and professor at Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden. 

O’Toole suggested Semmelweis after having worked with the university before on exchanges funded through the United States Department of Education and the European Commission on Higher Education.

“The faculty wanted to expand offerings to students to facilitate learning about health care systems in other countries,” she said in an email.

The proposed cooperation is based on long-standing personal relationships and previous partnerships, said Marcel Pop, director of International Relations at Semmelweis University.

“Semmelweis University and Rutgers University have had a firm academic partnership since 1984, which is proved by the publication of 91 scientific articles written in joint cooperation,” Pop said in an email.

Mutually beneficial areas and forms of cooperation had been identified during the reciprocal visits by the leaderships of the two institutions, he said. These visits extended the scope of scientific areas and defined joint research, as well as faculty and student mobility as the main channels of the partnership.

Personnel from Semmelweis made several visits to various departments at Rutgers, including the Division of Continuing Studies, Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences, the Rutgers Center for Global Advancement and International Affairs and Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden.

“In each of these meetings, it was clear that there were many common interests in both the education of students and advancing health science,” O’Toole said.

According to the Semmelweis University website, the first step of this collaboration focuses on the introduction of the Erasmus+ mobility program.

“The Erasmus+ mobility program allows the mobility of one student of Nursing and one student of Medicine from each university," Pop said. "By using the grant provided by the European Union, Semmelweis University contributes to the incoming students’ and faculty members’ costs of living and accommodation during the mobility period."

Fifteen undergraduate students will travel to Hungary as a part of a class titled Health and Healing in the European Union in Spring 2016, O'Toole said.

The mobility period would last for four-and-a-half months.

“(This) will give ample opportunities for the American students to not only participate in academic activities but to discover Hungary, its culture and traditions and to be part of Semmelweis University’s vibrant international student community," Pop said. "(It) comprises over 3,200 students from 78 countries."

The exchange is based on a study program approved by both schools’ teachers and credit transfer officers.

“The immersion course in May 2016 has both theoretical and practical parts.” Pop said. “It would include visits to diverse health care facilities, interactive group discussions and keynote addresses. Participants will have the opportunity to identify socio-cultural differences in the European health care systems and develop a critical approach to health care services.”

The partnership is expected to extend to joint research and talent support scholarship programs, according to Semmelweis.hu.

“We are planning to broaden the range of this partnership by extending it to the field of dentistry, Ph.D. studies and joint scientific research,” Pop said.

The current mobility program will enable the exchange of one staff member and one student between the Faculty of Health Sciences and Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden until May 31, 2017.

O’Toole said her hope is to extend this collaboration.

“It is hoped there will be many exchanges of faculty and students," she said. "As time progresses, we will be looking at multiple opportunities to collaborate on issues of mutual interest to two great Universities. Health is a critical issue for everyone at Rutgers ... It is important to understand the global implications for personal health.”

This collaboration not only enhances education but also stresses the strong relationship between Rutgers and Semmelweis University.

Pop said he believes that Semmelweis greatly benefits from engaging in joint activities with Rutgers.

“Rutgers University is among our priority relations," he said. "It gives us great pride and pleasure to be one of the partners of Rutgers University which ranks 60th in the world and continuously moves up seeking the perfection of excellence."

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