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VUSN student Erin Dittmer has been awarded a David L. Boren Fellowship to study in China during the 2012-2013 academic year. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Nursing student awarded fellowship to study in China


6/28/2012 - Vanderbilt University School of Nursing student Erin Dittmer has been awarded a David L. Boren Fellowship to study in China during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, the David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are a federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.

Dittmer is the first VUSN student to receive the fellowship. She is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Adult Nurse Practitioner student who speaks Chinese. Prior to entering VUSN’s bridge program in pursuit of her Master’s in the Science of Nursing, she lived in China for 13 years teaching English to Chinese students. The fellowship will provide her an in-depth language study as it relates to communications among health care providers and between providers and patients.

“I was living in China when SARS broke out, and seeing how that was handled was part of my interest into going into health care. With health issues like that, even with H1N1, you can see how it affects relationships between countries, and our countries need to be able to collaborate and control the spread of disease,” said Dittmer.

“I speak Chinese, but I don’t have a medical vocabulary. This fellowship will help me learn that part of the language. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Dittmer finishes her formal VUSN coursework in December. She will move to Beijing in January for a seven-month independent study, which will include enrolling as a full-time language student and doing clinic observations so she can interact with providers and patients in a health care setting.

“This fellowship is intended to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships between the United States and other countries. I believe health care can do that like no other discipline can,” said Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., senior associate dean for Academics at VUSN.

“Erin is blazing a new path for nursing students with this opportunity, and I cannot wait to see what happens when she combines her love of Chinese culture with her passion for advanced practice nursing.”

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