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Student Nursing Exchange 2013

Since 1995 an annual exchange of students nurses from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and Houston Baptist University has been arranged by the Grampian-Houston Association and the Houston/Grampian Association.

The students spend two weeks comparing healthcare provision and nursing education and practice in their Sister City areas. Following their study visit they submit reports on their findings to the two Associations.

The four student nurses selected to participate in the 2013 exchange are Kirsty Brown and Jennifer Anna Cruickshanks, from The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and Lauren Limb and Noelle Deaton, from Houston Baptist University.


Lauren and Noelle are pictured here with Mary Metz MBE (left), Chairman of the Houston/Grampian Association (left) and Carol Decker (right), co-ordinator of the exchange at the Houston end.


The Houston students’ study visit to Aberdeen is from 12-25 May, 2013 and Jennifer and Kirsty travel to Houston in September.  

While in Aberdeen Noelle and Lauren visited Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, Woodend Hospital, the Acute Medical Admissions Unit, Emergency Department and the Intensive Care Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.  They attended classes at the Robert Gordon University School of Nursing and Midwifery and had meetings with Elinor Smith, Director of Nursing and Quality for NHS Grampian, and Beverley Brown, one of Grampian’s exchange nurses in 2012, who is Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Society at RGU.

The four students were received at Aberdeen Town House by Lord Provost George Adam who met Noelle and Lauren in Houston on 4 May, 2013 at the Houston/Grampian Association’s annual pre-OTC Breakfast. They are pictured here with the Lord Provost in the Council Chamber (Left to right) Noelle Deaton (HBU), Kirsty Brown (RGU), Jennifer Anna Cruickshanks (RGU) and Lauren Limb (HBU).

 They were also guests of the Grampian-Houston Association at a dinner at the Cults Hotel (see picture below) where  Margaret Hadley and Leanne Morrison, co-ordinators of the exchange scheme, commended Lauren and Noelle on being excellent ambassadors for their university and their city.  Association Vice Chairman Councillor Ron McKail presented them with inscribed quaiches (Scottish drinking cups). Noelle and Lauren both said they were both impressed that in the National Health Service nobody was turned away and this was something they would like to see in the U.S.

They were also dinner guests of Grampian-Houston Association Chairman Councillor John Reynolds and his wife Helen and and GHA members Ian and Marlene McLeod..

As a break from their official programme Lauren and Noelle were taken on a weekend visit to Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh and to St Andrews, the home of golf, and stayed at Kirsty’s home at Newtongrange, near Edinburgh, and Jennifer’s home at Lundin Links in Fife.  

The visit was voted a great success by all concerned. The Texan visitors agreed that the warmth of their welcome more than compensated for the unseasonably cool weather in Scotland.  They rounded off their visit to Grampian by climbing 1700ft. Bennachie, Aberdeenshire favourite hill. It is not high compared with other Scottish peaks but it occupies a commanding position offering panoramic views over a wide area..

Jennifer and Kirsty are both specialising in children’s nursing. Kirsty, whose father Andrew Brown C.B.E. is a former Chief of Police in Grampian Region, has visited Houston where her aunt lives but  Jennifer will be a first time visitor to the U.S. in September. Jennifer is a running enthusiast and has represented Scottish universities at international level.

The student nurses are pictured here with kilted GHA member Ian McLeod.

On their arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on 13 September, 2013,  Kirsty and Jennifer were greeted by Noelle and Lauren.

During their visit to the Texas Medical Centre, the biggest complex of medical facilities in the world, the students witnessed open heart surgery in progress at St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.

On a visit to the Texas Chiropractic College in Pasadena, Harris County, they were shown round by Dawnelle Prince and the colourful kilted Dr Kenneth Sorrels.

In addition to their programme of hospital visits and lectures at Houston Baptist University Kirsty and Jennifer found time to attend a Houston Astros baseball game, a rodeo at Pasadena and a weekend visit to the State Capitol in Austin which was constructed with the aid of stonemasons from Aberdeen.

Before returning to Aberdeen they were guests of honour at a dinner at Houston Baptist University where they gave their impressions of healthcare and nursing in Texas and thanked the university and Houston/Grampian Association members for their wonderful hospitality.  HBU President Dr Robert Sloan stressed the value of the annual exchange with the Robert Gordon University and paid tribute to the excellence of the students chosen to participate in the exchange. Houston City Councilman Mike Laster handed over a proclamation from the Mayor designating a Houston/Grampian Student Nursing Programme Exchange Day in the city’s calendar.

In December, 2013, Kirsty and Jennifer were invited to give a presentation on their Houston visit at a national medical conference in Edinburgh. They addressed the annual ENTER conference – Enhancing Nursing Through Educational Research – on their comparison of healthcare provision and nursing education in Texas and Grampian.

They also gave a presentation to Grampian-Houston Association Board members and are pictured here in the front row with Aberdeenshire Provost Jill Webster and GHA Chairman Councillor Ron McKail.