In 1995, an outstanding and rewarding exchange program for college nursing students was developed between the sister cities, which has been enjoyed and celebrated now for twenty years. The participants in this program are The Robert Gordon University (formerly Forresterhill College) in Aberdeen and The Houston Baptist University College of Nursing. One of the founding members of this program, Helen Schmolke, was honored in June of 2005 in the Houston Chronicle and you can read her incredible story by clicking HERE.

Learning objectives in this nursing exchange program are focused on identifying the perception of health and health care problems in the country visited, describing methods for nursing practice, health research, and delivery of health care within the international community. Equally important is teaching the visiting students how patient care is provided within primary, acute and tertiary facilities. This 2-week program enables peers from each visiting country to understand how nursing care is provided in the their Sister City's country.

Video Clips - Nursing and Midwifery at Robert Gordon University

Just below are a series of video clips recorded by the student nurses at HBU and RGU. The first one was narrated by Christin Handy, who was one of our exchange students in 2010 and she gives a good summary of what being a student nurse at HBU is all about. Following her remarks is a great look at the senior students being honored and discussing where they have found their first nursing positions.

Both Houston Baptist University and Robert Gordon University have excellent nursing schools and one difference is that at RGU, students can opt to study nursing or midwifery. When our HBU student nurses begin interfacing with their counterparts at RGU, they will experience these differences. Following the HBU video are some short video clips showing some of the activities in Aberdeen that our HBU students will observe. These clips are of RGU students and graduates, discussing their chosen fields. Just click the links to hear the students describe their studies and their experiences.

The first video is HBU graduate Christin Handy discussing student nursing.
The second video is of an RGU female student studying nursing.
The third video is of an RGU RGU male student who is studying nursing.
The fourth video is of a graduate clinician who chose midwifery.


2017 Student Nurses Exchange




The photo above very appropriately shows this year's student nurses with Mary Metz, the Chairman of Houston Grampian.

The 2017 student nurses selected to participate in this year's exchange program are Amelia Holt and Celeste Ross from Houston Baptist University. They are both from the Houston area - Amelia being from Montgomery, Texas and Celeste from Houston. Their journey to Aberdeen began May 13, returning to Houston on May 27. From Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, the students chosen to visit Houston this year are Kimberly Tosh and Chloe Sangster.

To the left, the HBU students are shown here receiving their travel allowance from Houston Grampian and in the photo from left to right, are Amellia Holt, Quin McWhirter, Celeste Ross, and HBU Assistant Professor of Nursing Susan Schneider, MSN. To the right are photos of Kimberley Tosh and Chloe Sangster from RGU.


Amelia and Celeste arrived safely in Aberdeen and began their time of intense studying and touring with their counterparts from Robert Gordon University. They are shown to the left upon their arrival. They began their time with a tour of RGU and met with Leanna and others. They said it was great to see the difference in the nursing programs and to talk to the representative of the nurses union in the U.K. The students then went to a Care Home and learned procedures there fom the director. Afterwards they went to the zoological museum and then to the beach for a late lunch.

For the next week, the students immersed themselves in the curriculum at Robert Gordon University and worked to study and learn how nursing is done in Scotland. They became good friends with many of the RGU students and also had an opportunity to visit beautiful places in Scotland. They were hosted in the homes of Grampian Houston members and enjoyed a celebratory dinner with GHA and RGU folks and are shown with them the center photo below enjoying the evening at the Grampian dinner hosted by GHA.

Amelia and Celeste enjoyed seeing several castles while in Scotland and of course, highland cows (pronounced coos). They got to spend time in Edinburgh and were fascinated by Edinburgh Castle and by learning its history. They visited clinics and wards and got to compare nursing activities and how they are done there. They visited the Robert Burns University and noted that each floor houses a different profession.


In September, Kimberly and Chloe arrived in Houston to begin their time at HBU and around Houston and Texas. During the next two weeks, they took part in class with HBU student nurses, visited all of the major hospitals in Houston and had a lot of fun, in Houston, Austin and New Braunfels. Because of Hurricane Harvey, which preceded them in Houston by a few days, they were not able to do as many clinicals in Houston as had been scheduled, thus allowing them more time in HBU classes. One of the first events in Houston was a dinner hosted by HGA board member Ross Davidson and his wife Anne, plus members of the HGA Board. Ross is shown below to the left with the students, and in the center photo, the girls are being presented gift baskets by HGA. The photo to the right is of the students with Marti and Quin McWhirter.


Differences were noted by the students regarding how nursing is done in Houston, compared to Aberdeen. They observed that nurse uniforms were a good bit more casual in Houston, as they were used to very formal, strict uniforms in Aberdeen. They also found the clinic experiences quite different in Houston. They learned that almost all records and processes are done on the computer, compared to the numerous stacks of paper which are seen in Scotland. While they have computers at home, they are not used as extensively as they are in the Houston hospitals and clinics.

The food they enjoyed in Houston was described as "amazing" and they especially enjoyed the fun activities they got to experience. They enjoyed mucho (a lot of) Tex Mex cuisine while in Houston and just couldn't seem to get enough of it. Here they are on the left enjoying a Mexican feast at Chuy's Restaurant. Their cultural activities included a visit with the Houston Mayor and at the HGA dinner, Houston City Councilman Mike Laster said it was a great honor to welcome them to City Hall. Their fun activities included visiting a gun range which was a new experience. They also got to go tubing in New Braunfels, an activity they would never have been able to do in Scotland. They are shown to the right enjoyng that experience. Another fun event was attending the Houston Astros baseball game and they completed their time in Houston by getting to see some real Texas toughness, watching the cowboys ride at the Pasadena Rodeo.

In addition to their regular tours of the Houston hospitals, the students were also treated by Quin McWhirter to a VIP tour of the Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center Hospital. They were greeted there by Marilyn Gerry, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Elizabeth Fahnders, Special Events Coordinator, and then an amazing tour was conducted by Casey Smith, Director of Patient Care. Casey had experience at several hospitals in the Medical Center and is also a Registered Nurse.

Casey's enthusiasm was terrific and granted insights into many historical aspects of St. Luke's. He is shown to the left with the students, who were accompanied on the tour by Sharon Luksetich, HBU Department Chair, School of Nursing, and by Sue Schneider, MSN, RN, who is the coordinator for HBU of the Student Nurse Exchange Program. On the right, the students are shown with Sharon Luksetich, Quin McWhirter and Sue Schneider.

This is a tour that has been conducted for the last several years when the Scottish students are in Houston for their exchange visit, and it was fun to show them the departments in the hospital that are unlike those they have at their hospitals in Scotland, in addition to visiting areas there that are indeed more like they have at home. They stopped in at "The Terrace" a floor equipped and furnished very much like a hotel. The Terrace is typically occupied by VIP patients, many of whom are well known in the United States and around the world (although they will never tell you which VIP may be there at a particular time). Another stop was at the Denton Cooley Heart Museum in the Cooley Building, which honors the lifelong work of Dr. Denton Cooley, who pioneered many heart technologies.

Dr. Cooley was a heart and cardiothoracic surgeon famous for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. He was also founder and surgeon in-chief of The Texas Heart Institute, chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at clinical partner Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, consultant in Cardiovascular Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital, and a clinical professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. After visiting the Cooley building, the students spent time in the St. Luke's emergency center.

A dinner was hosted by Houston Grampian Association at HBU at which the student nurses each gave a presentation with slides about their experiences in Aberdeen and Houston. They are shown in the photo below, standing together at the time they made their presentation to the group at dinner. Attending the dinner was HBU Dean Robert Sloan and his wife Susan, plus the Honorable Karen Bell, Her Majesty's Consul General in Houston, who expressed admiration for the depth of the relationship that has developed between Houston and Aberdeen. She is shown in the photo to the right and Dr. and Mrs. Sloan are shown to the left with our HGA Chairman, Mary Metz and former HBU Dean of Nursing, Nancy Yuill. Also attending was Houston City Councilman Mike Laster who noted how closely the students from RGU and HBU have bonded. He encouraged them to maintain their close relationship and stay in touch in the years to come.

For the conclusion of the dinner event, a very touching presentation was made on behalf of Houston Baptist University to Mary Metz by Sue Schneider. Sue said, "We need to acknowledge those around us for their importance and not to put off things that we are able to accomplish today. So tonight, we’d like to acknowledge Mary Metz’s contribution to the Houston Grampian Association and its relationship with Houston Baptist University." All three of the exchange coordinators from HBU were present in honor of Mary to present a special King James Bible leaf. These three are Patricia Dominguez, Susan Schneider, and Dr. Nancy Yuill.

Houston Baptist University houses a Dunham Bible Museum on campus which receives very rare and historic Bibles as donations. Often, Bible leaves from these donations are given in recognition of special people. This particular leaf is from the King James Bible is pre-1650. The passage outlined on this leaf comes from Ruth, who is considered a person of noble character. In Ruth 2, Boaz first meets Ruth and shows generosity to others by leaving leftovers in the field for the poor. "In many ways, we see Mary Metz as a reflection of the Ruth story in our lives." They cited the attributes which reflect the essence of this Bible passage, including:
     - Generosity to others, one of Mary's most significant characteristics
     - Welcoming to foreigners (Mary has welcomed many students over the years)
     - Kind words, which are a distinctive character trait of Mary Metz
     - Compassion, which Mary has shown through her excellent work with the Grampian students

Mary is shown below receiving this precious award, and there was not a dry eye in the house as the dinner was adjourned.






2016 Student Nurses Exchange


The 2016 student nurses chosen to participate in this year's exchange program are Victoria Simms and Ceira Newell from Houston Baptist University, and Ruth Gilligan and Megan Aracena from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Both of the HBU students are from Texas, Victoria being from Crosby and Ciera from North Houston. They will leave Houston on May 14 and return on May 28.

In these photos, the HBU students are shown on the left receiving their travel allowance from Houston Grampian and in the photo from left to right, are Ciera, Victoria, Quin McWhirter, Liz Walton, and Renae Schumann, PhD,RN, Dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health at HBU. To the right, they relax following the presentation of the check and discuss the upcoming journey. They are also joined in this photo by Sue Schneider, Assistant Professor of Nursing and coordinator of the student nurse exchange program for HBU. You can click HERE to view a short video clip of the presentation of the travel allowance.

Prior to leaving for Aberdeen, Victoria and Ciera joined us for the annual OTC Breakfast event at the Hilton Post Oak in Houston on April 30, and spent time with Grampian Houston Association's Student Nursing Exchange Coordinator, Kristin Jackson-Brown. The three of them are shown at that event in the photo to the left.

Then it was off to Aberdeen and a smooth journey with an on-time arrival. Jackie Leith met them and took them to their accommodation after which Jackie and Ruth took them for a walk into the center of town to Union Square for lunch, where they are shown in the photo to the right. Later all four ladies went back to Union Square for dinner at Las Iguanas and talked about their plans for the following two weeks. Megan also had a welcome pack for Ciera and Ruth of some traditional Scottish goods including some famous Aberdeen rowies. Victoria woke up early the next morning and went for a jog around the city and commented on how beautiful the city is with all the flowers.

The morning of work began with Jackie taking them to RGU's campus for a debrief of their schedule and to learn about the nursing curriculum. Jackie and Leanna Will gave them an overview of how the nursing programme is delivered and how nursing is regulated in the UK. Following lunch, Jackie then took Victoria and Ciera for a walking tour of the campus which included going to the top floor of the library for stunning panoramic views of Aberdeen and the River Dee. The photos below, show them at RGU and some of the sights they saw, including their view of the river Dee. Professor Ian Murray, Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery, met Victoria and Ciera to welcome them on their exchange visit and they then attended a class for first year students to prepare them for their upcoming community placements. The RGU students had a lot of questions about Houston particularly when they realized that Jackie would be very involved in selecting students for next year’s exchange!



On Tuesday Victoria and Ciera spent the day at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (RACH). They posed for a traditional photo with Spidey Dolphin at the entrance to RACH and are shown here with him. Victoria spent time in the assessment unit and in the emergency department and Ciera was in the day case unit and the operating theatre. Victoria was approached by a nurse in the canteen at lunch time who recognized the HBU scrubs, as she had been on the exchange in a previous year. On Tuesday evening Ciera, Victoria and Megan went for dinner and cosmic ten pin bowling at the Sunset Boulevard amusement centre.

On Wednesday Ciera and Victoria went to Royal Cornhill Hospital (RCH) to look at mental health services. In the morning they both visited the Forensic Acute ward and joined in a teaching session with medical students where a man who had previously been a patient there presented his story of illness and recovery. In the afternoon Victoria visited a dementia unit where one of the RGU students of mental health nursing gave her a full report on all the patients. Ciera visited a functioning older adult ward, which cares for people over 65 years old, with mental illness other than dementia. Unfortunately for Ciera most of the patients wanted a nap just after she arrived! In the evening all four students were taken for dinner by Ian and Marlene McLeod from the GHA to the Deeside Golf Club and were also joined by Bill and Christine Neish from GHA. Marlene said, "The girls were all bursting with enthusiasm and excited about the whole experience. They were a breath of fresh air and will be excellent ambassadors for GHA /RGU and HGA/HBU."

On Thursday Victoria spent the day at the Emergency Department (ED) and Ciera in the Acute Medical Initial Assessment Unit (AMIA) at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Both areas started off a little slow but soon became extremely busy, in fact so busy in AMIA that Ciera was left feeling guilty that she was only able to observe and not help out. When they finished there the Aberdeen weather was typical fog and rain so Jackie, Victoria and Ciera went to the Winter Gardens in the Duthie Park. (You can see Victoria above right in the fog.) The Winter Gardens have many rare and exotic plants and boasts one of the largest British collections of cacti. Ciera took a lot of beautiful photos, nearly of every plant and both felt like they were in Texas in the hot, humid tropical house. Friday was spent in the ITU (intensive care unit) and the students indicated that they enjoyed each clinical day and said the staff were phenomenal.

On the weekend all four students went to Edinburgh. Upon their arrival, they went to the Edinburgh Castle and upon seeing it, Victoria noted, " (WOW! it was stunning.)" She said she marveled at the sites and the architecture all around the city. They are shown to the left on the Royal Mile. They took a bus tour to see all the views and hear the history along with it. The bus was a practical way to see the city, considering that the rain was heavy on and off. Victoria said that they tasted "haggis fried patties with a type of whiskey sauce and surprisingly I didn't cringe... It was alright!"

Saturday evening they had reservations for an Italian restaurant and then walked to a Celildh where there was traditional Scottish dancing and they taught the crowd step by step. The band had accordions, fiddles, and surprisingly Ciera and Victoria knew some of the songs.

Sunday they went to the Edinburgh Dungeons, thinking it would be history-based and a tour of real tunnels/dungeons. Instead it seemed to be a haunted storyline and acting in which they tried to scare tourists the whole time! Lastly, they went to The Dome for Afternoon High Tea, finding it to be a beautiful venue.

A special treat for the students took place on Wednesday of the second week when they got to meet and have coffee with the Lord Provost at the Town House in Aberdeen, shown to the left. The Lord Provost has been very active with GHA and HGA and has graciously spent time with our students whenever they are in Aberdeen. Following their meeting with him they went across town to the headquarters of Aberdeenshire Council where they were entertained to lunch by Provost Hamish Vernal who is in the middle of the picture to the right.

Also shown below is a photo of the company who attended the Grampian-Houston Association dinner at the Norwood Hall Hotel, Aberdeen at which Brett Jackson, GHA Chairman, presented Ciera and Victoria with inscribed quaiches as a souvenir of their visit to Grampian. You will notice an historic Texas flag, which is one of 10 flags used during the history of Texas and presented to Prince Charles when he visited Texas in 1986. The Prince gave them on loan to the Grampian-Houston Association and they are displayed at Woodhill House, headquarters of the former Grampian Regional Council and now Aberdeenshire Council's HQ. The photos were provided by Bill Neish, who is steadfastly active as a participant in GHA/HGA activities and who keeps us enlightened throught each year on the Grampian Houston activities.




Ruth and Megan then experienced a unique beginning to their visit to Houston Baptist University as they arrived in Houston on Saturday night just in time to watch the HBU Huskies win their football game. In her article about their visit, Ruth said that "The atmosphere was incredible!" On Sunday they attended a beautiful service at Victoria's church which remembered those lost in 9/11. Then it was on to a cook off at another church with competition to see who could make the best chili, which in Texas is a basic food, and the Scots were most pleased with it. With the day only half over, they then went to visit NASA followed by dinner to try their first Texas barbecue.

On Monday morning they were welcomed to HBU by the Dean of Nursing, Dr. Schumann, and then got a "Husky" (the school mascot) tour of the campus, learning about the school's history and the people who made HBU what it is today. They are shown to the left ready to begin their tour. Their studies then began with a pharmacology class, after which they went to Houston's famous Galleria for shopping and dinner.

Tuesday, the students had a communities class which discussed the history of nursing and how that helped to shape public nursing today. They were also able to visit the Houston City Council, where they met Council member Mike Laster and the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner in the city's beautiful city hall. To the right, they are seen standing on the steps of the entry to City Hall. For a taste of Houston sports, they went to see the Houston Astros vs Texas Rangers baseball game. More classes on Wednesday, including health assessment, mental health and obstetrics, all of which may prove useful in their future careers. A visit to China Town in the evening included a dinner of sushi and shaved ice.

Mid-week, there was a visit to the Houston zoo with Sue Schneider and then on to a Sugar Land Skeeters baseball game that evening. Friday, Quin McWhirter hosted a tour of CHI St. Luke's Hospital, an annual event that the students really enjoyed. This year's tour included a longer-than-usual visit to the surgical observation dome to watch open heart surgery. The patient was a 27 year old man with heart failure and the surgical procedure consisted of installing a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) to enable his heart to work until a heart transplant can be done when it is available. The tour also included a tour of the Emergency Room and a visit to The Terrace, the special hospital suites where kings and presidents stay when they come to Houston for medical care. Although you will not be told who might be staying on this floor, it is known to be the place that celebrities frequently stay.

Next was a trip to Texas A&M University in College Station and then on to the Washington county fair in Brenham to watch country singer Aaron Watson. The Scots wore their cowboy boots and felt like proper Texans! On Saturday they were taken to Austin to see the Texas State Capitol building. It was interesting for them to learn that the Capitol building was built from Scottish stone and was built by laborers which included many Scots; another link between our sister cities. Sunday included a brunch in the morning and a meet and greet dinner in the evening at HGA board member Ross and Anne Davidson's house.

Monday of week #2 began with a tour of Texas Children's hospital and there, the students visited the NICU, PICU, cardiovascular, renal and neurology units. They enjoyed the opportunity to see the pediatric side of nursing and the challenges that it presents. On Tuesday, Ruth and Megan gave a talk to a pre-nursing freshman class to tell them about the exchange and nursing studies. They then headed to the Natural Science Museum where thet visited the butterfly sanctuary and various exhibits. They spent the afternoon with the Director of Nursing at the Southwest Memorial Hermann hospital and got a tour of the facilities. They then gave a presentation to the nursing student association at HBU about the exchange and the things they have learned. .



2015 Student Nurses Exchange


And so we begin our second 20 years of HGA's student nurse exchange program with our 2015 student nurses from HBU and with a new nurse exchange program coordinator for Houston Grampian. The Houston Baptist University student nurses named for this year's program are Blake Martin and Lorena Lozano, and our new Nurse Exchange Program Coordinator is Liz Walton who is succeeding Carol Decker in that position.

The group shown in the photos gathered in the Green Room of the Morris Cultural Arts Center at Houston Baptist University. From left to right in the photo to the left are Dr. Renae Schumann Dean of HBU's School of Nursing and Allied Health with Mary Metz, Blake Martin, Lorena Lozano and Liz Walton. Mary Metz and Liz Walton are presenting a check to the students to cover travel and expenses for their visit to Aberdeen.


They departed Houston for Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen for our annual student nurse exchange visit on May 16, to return to Houston on the 31st, looking forward to meeting their Robert Gordon University counterparts,
Joanne Peters and Rebecca Gardiner in Aberdeen. To the left, Blake and Lorena are shown at Houston Intercontinental Airport preparing to leave Houston on their first overseas journey, and to the right they are shown with Joanne and Rebecca on a cold Aberdeen evening after dinner the evening of their arrival. Jackie Leith observed that this was not quite the temperatures Blake and Lorena are used to!

Joanne and Rebecca, will be in Houston September 12 - 27. The Dillon II room at HBU is reserved for Wednesday, September 23rd, from 6-10 pm for the formal Houston Grampian dinner honoring the four student nurses from Houston and Aberdeen. We will be looking forward to the joint presentation from them, telling us about their visits to the two cities and the similarities and differences they experienced in how nursing is practiced. It is fascinating each year to hear the students compare nursing skills, priorities, techniques and preferences and our members are always enlightened by their presentation.

Once in Aberdeen, the students toured RGU School of Nursing and Midwifery, and met the staff. There wasn't a photo at door of nursing school that day, since it was pouring with rain. However, in the school next door there was a Power of Plants exhibition which was really interesting and the girls got to extract DNA from a strawberry.

That evening included an event always enjoyed by our student nurses when in Aberdeeen, which was dinner with Marlene and Ian McLeod. This year certainly met expectations and they are shown here entering the Deeside Golf Club and then inside with the McLeods. Marlene said that, "As usual . . . they were all delightful girls, and so interesting to chat with.They will all be excellent ambassadors for GHA/HGA, we felt very proud of them." Today was spent touring RGU and meeting staff.

Kristin Jackson-Brown and Jackie Leith took the four students out for an evening of dining and entertainment. They had dinner at the Caledonian Thistle Hotel and then went to see "Wicked" at His Majesty's Theatre. Kristin said that it was lovely to meet Blake and Lorena and commented that they are fantastic young ladies and great Ambassadors for HBU and HGA. Below are photos of them at the strawberry DNA event plus pics from that enjoyable evening.


Clinicals and classroom activities began and on Tuesday, May 19th, both Blake and Lorena spent the day at the emergency department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. On Wednesday, Lorena visited the Intensive care unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Blake spent the day at an acute mental health ward at Royal Cornhill Hospital. Additional time the next day was spent at the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at ARI and at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital (RACH).

The photo to the left was taken with "Spidey", the colorful dolphin at the entrance to RACH. The dolphin is one of many which were placed all around Aberdeen last year with individual designs, then auctioned to raise money for the children's hospital charity. Blake and Lorena also had some free time and spent it exploring the centre of Aberdeen near the apartment where they stayed.

After meeting Spidey the dolphin at RACH, they went real dolphin spotting at Torry Battery the next day. Torry Battery was a defensive position during various wars and offers great views across Aberdeen bay and harbour. They scored a great view of 6 dolphins playing together. The photo to the right shows the students dolphin spotting. The morning of May 22, Lorena and Blake attended a meeting at RGU of the Scottish Interprofessional Education Network where a talk was given by a co-founder of the Patient Voices Programme, which was established in 2003 in an attempt to make healthcare safer, more humane, dignified, respectful, patient-centered and compassionate. This was accomplished through the creation and sharing of personal stories of health and illness, hope and hopelessness, care and lack of it. Lorena and Blake were asked by the speaker for their opinions on how they felt this related to the U.S. and they provided responses which were judged to be impressive, confident and informed.

With more historical visits to be made, on Monday Jackie, Lorena and Blake began the day with a tour of CLAN House, a charity offering emotional and practical support to people affected by cancer. Services are offered free of charge to all from pre-diagnosis and diagnosis through treatment and beyond at 11 support and wellbeing centres located across north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.

Following their visit to CLAN, they went to the winter gardens at Duthie Park, which has been a "must see" site for all of our students over the years and is always an enjoyable stop. They were treated to lunch at Woodhill House with Provost of Aberdeenshire Jill Webster and Councillor Ron McKail, Chair of GHA and then enjoyed a visit to Balmoral Castle, which has been one of the residences for members of the British Royal Family since 1852, when the estate and its original castle were purchased privately by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. They remain as the private property of the royal family and are not the property of the Crown. Queen Elizabeth arrives there in August each year for her annual visit. The girls are shown to the leftt at Balmoral, and to the right during a visit to Dunnottar castle, with Joanne, Rebecca and a piper.

On Tuesday, Blake and Lorena spent time with the Community Nursing Team that work from the Garthdee Medical Practice. Next, Jackie accompanied them to visit Maggie’s Centre which is another charitable organization offering practical, emotional and social support to those affected by cancer. They were given a taster session of mindfulness which is mind-body based training that helps people to change the way they think and feel about their experiences alleviating stress and promoting mental wellbeing. They also were able to visit the Wood Group PSN Occupational Health Department and met the Occupational Health Manager, Occupational Health Nurse and the team who deal with requests and book appointments. They learned about the health surveillance necessary for a range of roles working both on and off shore and observed activities and equipment at the local clinic facility.

On Wednesday, the four students were interviewed and photographed by the RGU communications officer to be featured in the RGU bulletin and local press. Then they attended a teaching session at RGU which included a presentation by the associate head of the school, Dr Karen Strickland, from her doctoral work - A phenomenological, or "lived experience" of the transition to living with Multiple Sclerosis. Another health-related activity was presented by an RGU lecturer about her work on "A Nurse-Led Multi-Disciplinary Clinic for People with Parkinson’s Disease".

On the morning of the 28th, Blake and Lorena attended RGU classes with midwifery students learning about breast feeding techniques in the clinical skills centre. In the afternoon Jackie, Kristin and all four students were welcomed by the Lord Provost of Aberdeen City, Hon. George Adam, and they were given a tour of the Town House. The Lord Provost presented the four student nurses with glass candle-holders bearing the city’s motto "Bon Accord". In the evening, Grampian-Houston Association hosted a delightful formal dinner at which Blake and Lorena were welcomed by Councillor McKail who presented them with inscribed quaichs as a memento of their visit to Scotland.

The photo above left shows the students with the GHA members and with their RGU hosts. Pictured seated with the four students in the front row is Councillor Ron McKail, and in the back row are (left to right) Bill Neish, Bob Anderson (GHA Founder Chairman), Christine Neish, Sandra Anderson, George Duncan, Jackie Leith, Brett Jackson, Kristin Jackson Brown, Margaret Hadley, Eric Duncan, Barbara Duncan, Ian Gordon, Joan Gordon and Prof. Ian Murray, of RGU. They are shown in the photo to the right with Kristin Jackson-Brown to the left and Jackie Leith to the right and the Lord Provost in the center during their visit to the Town House.

In addition to all of the activities shown above, Blake and Lorena also were able to spend some of their unscheduled time visiting other significant attractions, including the Glengarioch Distillery at Oldmeldrum, the historic Dunnottar Castle at Stonehaven and a day in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.

The Press and Journal  in Aberdeen posted a nice article on 2 June, about the exchange program and the visit of Lorena and Blake to RGU. They referred to them as "Two nursing students who swapped Houston for Aberdeen to learn more about healthcare in Scotland". Quoting Blake, it read, "Miss Martin said the trip had been invaluable, and that she had been able to make a lot of comparisons between how healthcare is taught in the UK and the US. Both systems work well though with similar care for patients.”  From the RGU side, Rebecca said, “The US is known for having world-leading hospitals and health care services and I can’t wait to see it for myself.” The article summarized the program and visit, as did this press release and photo in the news section of the RGU website. Click RGU News.

As they began completing their time in Aberdeen, on Friday Blake and Lorena visited Transition Extreme which is an extreme sports center that assists young people to make positive life transitions through sport and education programmes. Saturday they went to an International Market and a Farmers Market and that evening Jackie and the HBU students went for dinner in Stonehaven. Following their departure for Houston on Sunday, Jackie noted that, "Blake and Lorena have been wonderful ambassadors for HBU, it has been an absolute pleasure to spend time with them."


Before we knew it, September was here and it was time for Rebecca and Joanne to arrive in Houston. Sue Schneider retrieved them at Houston Intercontinental Airport on Saturday, September 12, and the Houston experience began. They went directly to HBU and moved into the dormitory there for their Houston stay. Sleep was first, and then Sunday was spent with Blake and Lorena.Here they are just after arriving at IAH.


With a bit of sleep done, as the week began, the students got to meet Houston Grampian Association members on Monday night at a great pot luck dinner at the home of Anne and Ross Davidson. Ross was our chef and along with Anne, prepared what most felt was a gourmet meal which came with an abundance of good fellowship and Texas hospitality. It was fun to exchange culture experiences between the Scots and Texans and to enjoy the amazing food prepared by Anne and Ross.

On campus, Rebecca and Joanne were welcomed in the Cullen Nursing building by Dr. Renae Schumann, Dean of HBU's School of Nursing and then had a Husky tour, followed by lunch and then a visit to the pharmacology class, which is designed to assist students in preparing for clinical experiences by applying concepts of assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology, diagnostic and laboratory testing analysis, and therapeutic interventions to specific clinical situations. The course involves didactic and experiential teaching methods and active learning experiences. In addition to preparing for clinical experiences, the course is designed to promote the development of critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and time management skills.

On Tuesday, they studied Nursing in the Community and Nursing the Community, one of four courses for the Baccalaureate Nursing program that focuses on care of groups, populations, and communities. Students analyze historical trends and characteristics and factors that have impacted community health nursing and contributed to community health issues. Students compare and contrast the professional nursing roles in the community and apply theories, models, and principles to community health nursing practice.

The students were invited to meet and visit with Dr. Robert Sloan, President of HBU and Mrs. Sloan at their home. The Sloans have always been enthusiastic supporters of our student nursing exchange program and have regularly participated in our formal dinner honoring the students. All four students are shown here in the Sloan's home. Following their visit to the Sloan residence they sat in on an NSA meeting to hear a presentation to HBU students which talked about our Exchange Program. The evening was spent with the Versace cohort of nursing students.

Back to work, the next day included attening a class about mental health which focues on specialty care of individuals and their families. In this course, the dimensions of health are assessed in families dealing with mental health problems. Students apply concepts of care to case management and continuity of care of families with mental health problem in the home, community, and specialized environments. The afternoon was spent in a VIP tour of CHI St. Luke's Hospital, beginning with lunch hosted by Briana Resa of St. Luke's Development Department. Below left are the gathering of our group with the exception of Sue Schneider, who was taking the photo.

The first stop of the tour was in the Emergency Center and a very thorough and interesting presentation of the ER was made by April Ybarra, who discussed in detail, the operation and responsibility of the ER staff. Her enthusiasm for her job really set the tone for the students regarding the passion that develops in nurses who are really "living their dream" in their profession. She talked at length about methodology and prompted quite a few excellent questions from the students. They are shown to the right with Sue Schneider in the ER.

Following the ER tour, a lengthy and most educational visit was made to the surgical observation dome where an aortic aneurism surgical repair was being made by one of the leading St. Luke's surgeons. Every year on this tour, we will experience some firsts and this year was no exception. At the conclusion of the aorta repair, the three doctors standing across from the surgeon applauded the surgeon for the job that he had done and this was a first. Then, he stepped away from the patient and turned around and crossed himself, which testified to his faith and brought tears to some of the eyes watching him. He then returned to the patient to close and clean up, after having provide a very memorable experience for us.

Our plan was to next visit the Cardiac Inensive Care Unit to learn about the very specialized forms of treatment provided cardiac patients there. This unit is known to be a cutting-edge facility, particularly the process they have developed of lowering body temperature to prevent heart attack. Our students were looking forward to seeing a demonstration of the machine used for this process, but unfortunately, the unit was too busy to accommodate our tour. Our next stop was was in The Terrace, an upscale and very modern floor of hospital suites, each complete with the patient's room and a bathroom, plus a separate comfortable section for family members to stay overnight with the patient. Although you are never told who might be staying on this floor, it is known to be the place that celebrities frequently stay. Below are shown the tour group in the St. Luke's lobby, also the students having lunch and a photo of them observing surgery.


The final visit on the tour was to the heart museum in the Denton Cooley Building of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's. The museum covers the development of all key supporting services at THI, and demonstrates the advances in technology achieved over the years. Visitors have access to a video perspective on the Institute as well as interactive computers for more information on the items displayed. Multimedia displays also include an inside look at the anatomy of the heart and the sounds of heartbeats. Many of Dr. Denton A. Cooley's personal mementos and awards are shown as well. To gain insight into open heart surgery and the accomplishments of the St. Luke's heart surgeons, please click Open Heart Surgery to see the history of the development of coronary bypass surgery, heart transplantation and artificial heart implantation. You will see in the video that Dr. Cooley was the first surgeon in the world to perform a heart transplant and his history is documented in the video.

Clinicals played a key role in the students' visit to Houston and included Pediatrics at Texas Children's Hospital, plus clinicals at St. Luke's and Memorial Hermann Hospitals. With nurses focused on physical activities, the students got to attend a number of sporting events, including soccer, volleyball and football at HBU, Skeeters baseball and a trip to College Station, Texas to watch the Texas A&M Aggies football game in a sold-out stadium with over 100,000 people present. To the right, you can see them in the packed venue, listening to the Aggies holler and watching the team play.

A special sporting outing included going to the Pasadena Rodeo and seeing the events in which Texas cowboys compete doing things like calf roping, bull riding and other work chores that are done routinely on Texas ranches.The girls are shown to the left in their newly-acquired cowboy boots, a necessity for attending the rodeo, and Joanne is shown trying on a cute cowboy hat.

An outing that was both educational and fun included visits to the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center and then to the beach in Galveston on the same day. NASA was so interesting that the time there dominated the day and by the time they got to the beach in Galveston, it was already night. As you can see in the photo below, they still enjoyed their visit to the beach.


Perhaps the most unique activity during the visit to Houston was the students' visit to Hermann Life Flight, which is a critical care air medical transport service They serve the community within a 150-mile radius of the Texas Medical Center with helicopters, and worldwide using fixed-wing transport. Provided as a community service by Memorial Hermann, Life Flight operates as a hospital-based, non-profit organization and relies on community support and fundraising efforts to pay for the service. It costs about $3 million annually to support the program, none of which comes from tax dollars. Crews perform more than 3,000 missions each year, making the John S. Dunn Helistop one of the busiest helipads in the world. Since its inaugural flight in 1976, Memorial Hermann Life Flight has flown more than 140,000 missions. The Life Flight staff staff consists of 21 pilots, 21 flight nurses, 18 paramedics/dispatchers and eight mechanics. Each helicopter is inspected and serviced daily. The students are shown below learning about Life Flight.


To conclude this student visit to Houston and the beginning of the 21st year of the exchange program, a formal dinner was held at HBU to honor our four students and to hear presentations from them about their visits to Aberdeen and Houston respectively. After welcoming attendees, our Chairman Mary Metz, MBE introduced Dr. Robert Sloan, president of Houston Baptist University, to extend greetings on behalf of HBU and to congratulate all who partipated in the program. Following his remarks, a blessing was offered by James McLennan, Senior Vice President of Wood Mackenzie.

A very scrumptious dinner was then enjoyed, after which Chairman Metz introduced honored guests to our banquet event. And then, the highlight of the evening as Mrs. Metz introduced the four student nurses to make their presentations analyzing their exchange visits, noting the similarities of how nursing is conducted in the UK and Houston and the many differences as well. The students made perhaps the best series of presentations that we have heard from students over the years who have participated in the exchange. In addition to thanking HGA and their respective schools, they made it clear that they had become lifelong friends and that their take from the visits far exceeded their expectations.

Upon the conclusion of their presentation, the Honorable Mike Laster, Houston City Councilman, made remarks on behalf of the City of Houston and presented a proclamation to the students from the Mayor and Council of the City, and the presentation is shown to the left. His presentation was followed by remarks from the Honorable Karen Bell, Her Majesty's Consul General in Houston, who has just begun this assignment and who we were honored to meet for the first time. Shown to the right, her remarks provided an appropriate close to an enjoyable evening and a very successful 2015 student exchange.

Mary Metz dismissed the gathering with thanks from the Houston Grampian Association and good wishes to our members and to our Sister City organization in Aberdeen, Grampian Houston Association.

Below are more photos of our students, HBU faculty and other dignitaries who participated in the exchange visit this year, beginning with a photo of the students with Renae Schumann, PhD,RN, Dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health. Also shown are the students with Her Majesty's Consul General, Karen Bell plus the group with Sue Schneider, Mary Metz and Liz Walton, followed by two rodeo photos.







2014 Student Nurses Exchange
20th Anniversary

In anticipation of this very special year of our signature program, the student nurse exchange began taking shape with the naming of students for Houston Baptist University and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. From Houston, Isha Patel and Melanie Honeycutt were chosen to represent HBU and HGA in the program and Sally-Anne McWilliam and Fiona Mutch were selected from RGU in Aberdeen. As the schedule developed, our HBU students scheduled their exchange visit to begin May 17 and last until June 1. Our RGU visitors were scheduled to be in Houston from September 14 through 27, with a dinner honoring all
at HBU on September 24, at which time each student makes a presentation to discuss similarities and differences between nursing in Aberdeen and in Houston. Joining us this year was a delegation of Grampian Houston members from Aberdeen, and they were able to participate in several of the events with us.

We'd like to take a moment to tell you more about one of the students chosen at RGU. Most often, students are young, college-age men and women, but occasionally, there is a student with a special story. Thanks to our friend, Bill Neish from Grampian-Houston, we've learned amazing information about Sally-Anne McWilliam which was featured in local newspapers from Aberdeenshire. She has an interesting background and asBill says, "You don't have to be young to be a student nurse." Sally-Anne is in her early 50s.

She earned a law degree at North London University and a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development qualification at RGU, before working as a human resources adviser with Aberdeen City Council for nearly 13 years. After nursing her late husband who died of cancer, she decided to give up her career in HR and train as a nurse. She enrolled as a student nurse at RGU in September, 2012. She and Neil are shown in the photo above to the right at a very happy time.

This year's student nurse exchange program was once again launched in the Green Room of the Morris Cultural Arts Center at Houston Baptist University. Houston Grampian Association members, Chairman Mary Metz, Student Nurse Program Coordinator Carol Decker and HGA Vice president Quin McWhirter were present to meet HBU student nurses Isha Patel and Melanie Honeycutt and to present airline tickets plus expense money to them for their trip to Aberdeen. It was our pleasure this year to have the HBU Dean of Nursing, Dr. Renae Shumann with us in addition to Sue Schneider and Donna Cox. The group enjoyed refreshments prior to the presentation to the students, and the group is shown in the above photo to the right. From left to right are Dr. Shuman, Carol Decker, Isha Patel, Melanie Honeycutt, Mary Metz and Quin McWhirter.The students said that the only thing standing between them and total excitement were their upcoming final exams. They were also looking forward to being present at the OTC breakfast on Saturday, hosted by Houston Grampian and the British American Business Council. In the photo to the left, the presentation is being made to the students.

Departing on schedule from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport, Isha and Melanie had a safe flight to Aberdeen and we received word that they arrived safely, ready to begin their visit to RGU. A time of excitement for the girls, they looked forward to making new lifetime friends during the course of their visit, both in the classroom and in their other activities there. They are shown in the photo to the left at the airport in Houston immediately prior to their departure. Upon arrival in Aberdeen, they were met by students and RGU staff at the airport and taken to Woolmanhill Flats at RGU, their residence for the time in Aberdeen. After some time to rest and get settled they went to the beach, "which is much different. No swimming or sunbathing as it is a little chilly".The photo to the right was taken at Aberdeen Beach after their safe arrival, and they are pictured there with Lecturer and USA Coordinator for RGU, Leanna Will, enjoying ice cream cones.

Following this enjoyable beginning in Aberdeen, the student nurse activities began, including classroom studies, clinicals and other activities and events with the student nurses from RGU. Those two students chosen to take part in the 2014 exchange are Sally-Anne McWilliam and Fiona Mutch. During the week, the students did clinicals at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital and the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital. In the words of a clinician and an RGU student, here's a short video clip of a student at the Children's Hospital, (click here). At the end of the first week, more fun was in store and this account was received from Melanie. "This weekend and today were great fun! We started out our weekend with a trip to Balmedie beach where we got to "paddle" or stick our feet into the North Sea. We also went to a beach a little further down the road and were able to see a lot of seals. Afterwards, we went to Fiona's
house to eat dinner. Fiona and her mother had made us a Mexican dinner with tortilla soup and fajitas. It was absolutely delicious!

On Saturday we did lots of exploring. We went to Crathes Castle and were able to explore the garden and the inside of the castle. (Photo to the left shows them in the garden and the photo to the right is of the girls with Marlene McLeod, our dear friend from Grampian/Houston) We also went to the Bridge of Feugh in hopes of seeing salmon jumping, but unfortunately we did not see any. We then went to a few different towns or areas, including Banchory, Balmoral, Balletor, and Braemar. In Braemar we were able to go to different shops in town. And were able to walk around a bit. We weren't able to go to Balmoral Castle but we did get to see a tiny bit of it as we drove by, and the flag was raised signaling someone was there.Sunday and Monday we stayed in Aberdeen around the City Centre to explore and do some shopping. We even had a dinner of fish and chips on Sunday which was delicious and very Scottish we felt."

As noted in our Houston Grampian webpage about our 2014 Offshore Technology Conference breakfast, our student nurses were privileged to meet the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Hon. George Adam just prior to departing Houston for this exchange visit. In Aberdeen, it was their great pleasure to be entertained by the Lord Provost at Aberdeen's Town House and we received this photo of the event from our dear friend, Bill Neish. In the photo he is pictured with (L to R) Fiona Mutch (RGU), Isobel Maughan, GHA, Isha Patel (HBU), Sally-Anne McWilliam (RGU), Jackie Leith (RGU) and Melanie Honeycutt (HBU). This special time was a true highlight of the exchange visit. We are pleased and honored by the dedicated and enthusiastic participation in our Sister City activities, both in Aberdeen and in Houston by the Lord Provost.


Aberdeenshire Provost Jill Webster (3rd left below) also entertained the nursing exchange students to lunch at Council Headquarters, Woodhill House, Aberdeen. Shown below in the picture are RGU lecturer Leanna Will (left) and Councillor Ron McKail, Chairman of the Grampian-Houston Association.


A treat always enjoyed by our HBU students on their exchange visits, includes being hosted for dinner by Marlene and Ian McLeod at the Deeside Golf Club, and this year's visit was no exception. They are shown below with the McLeods and the RGU students, Sally Anne and Fiona, then the four students are pictured at Balmedie Beach. Also shown below are the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital and the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital where they did clinicals. The final photos are of the students at Crathes Castle and Dunnottar Castle and a panoramic view of Dunnottar.




For the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the student nurse exchange program, a dinner was held to entertain the four exchange students for 2014. Speaking at the dinner, which was held at the Cults Hotel, Aberdeen Councillor Ron McKail, Chairman of the Grampian-Houston Association, said the association took considerable pride in having been able to provde 80 student nurses the opportunity to study the healthcare system in their Sister City of Houston. He thanked RGU and HBU and their staffs for the essential contribution they had made to the success of the program and also thanked the GHA members who had acted as co-ordinators of the exchange over the past 20 years - Bob Davidson, Marlene McLeod, Margaret Hadley and Isobel Maughan.

Councillor McKail presented Melanie and Isha with inscribed quaichs as a memento of their visit to the Grampian Region, and Aberdeen Lord Provost George Adam presented the exchange students with ornaments bearing the City of Aberdeen crest. Among the guests attending the dinner was Dame Anne Begg, Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South since 1997 and Chair of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. In the photo to the right, she is pictured with the four exchange students and Leanna Will (back left), of the Robert Gordon University, and Isobel Maughan (back right), of the Grampian-Houston Association. The gathering of dignitaries from Parliament, Grampian Houston, the City of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University are pictured in the photo to the left.

The final photo from Aberdeen below is of all four students with RGU Coordinator, Leanna Will.

Melanie and Isha arrived safely back in Houston on June 1, exhausted and happy. And so, after 20 years of delightful and profitable student nurse exchanges, our signature tradition continues. With each year it improves and offers better and better comparisons of the similarities and differences between nursing in Aberdeen and in Houston, and we look forward to many more years of learning, making lifetime friends, and further solidifying the relationship between our two sister cities.

In a heartfelt letter to our HGA president, John Lee, who is also Vice President Operations of the Wood Group, who sponsored the exchange visit for HGA, Melanie and Isha wrote this great account of their experience.

    "Our appreciation for the Wood Group PSN cannot be simply expressed in words for sponsoring the Houston Grampian Association Student Nurse Exchange Program. Our experiences in Aberdeen, Scotland were highly educational and "irreplaceable. From the day we arrived on May 17, 2014 to the day that we departed on June 1, 2014, we were welcomed warmly by our receiving parties. Guided by the staff of Robert Gordon University, we were able to experience the National Healthcare System first hand. The similarities and differences between our systems, nurses, and cultures promoted growth professionally as well as individually.

    We truly enjoyed our observational placements to The Royal Aberdeen Children's hospital, Rachel house children's hospice, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, the Accident and Emergency Unit, and the Intensive Therapy Unit at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Not only did we get a chance to observe healthcare in acute hospital based settings we were given the opportunity to experience community based health Aberdeen. Being able to experience these aspects of healthcare, we have expanded our knowledge and learned new skills we will use in our future nursing careers.

    During our visit we not only developed new perspectives professionally, but socially and culturally as well. Robert Gordon University nursing students Fiona Mutch and Sally-Anne McWilliams, who will be coming to Houston in September, took us to many magnificent sights. During our visit we were able to experience the cultural aspect of Scotland by visiting Dunnotar Castle, Pittmedon garden, Newbrugh beach were we were able to see seals, and numerous parks. We were shown around Aberdeen city as well as the beautiful country side of Aberdeenshire. Our time observing and experiencing first-hand the culture of Scotland is a time we will never forget.

    We are most grateful for the opportunity that you provided for us. It is an irreplaceable opportunity that we are honored to have been chosen for. Thank you again for all you have done to make this opportunity possible."

In anticipation of welcoming the students from RGU in September, we learned that Grampian-Houston Association has a new student nursing exchange co-ordinator. She is a registered nurse who has worked both in Texas and Scotland. Kristin Jackson-Brown worked at Humble Surgical Hospital north of Houston before returning to Aberdeen last year. She will oversee the annual nursing exchange involving students from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and Houston Baptist University. Kristin now acts as a consultant in excellence in healthcare and quality improvement.

On schedule in September, Fiona and Sally-Anne arrived in Houston and after a night of rest, joined members of Houston Grampian at the home of our Chairman, Mary Metz, for an outstanding potluck dinner and an opportunity to meet and visit. A very special cake was made for dessert, honoring the four students and they are shown to the left just prior to cutting the cake. In the third photo, Houston Grampian board members meet and greet the students and begin discussing the upcoming two weeks. Following this welcoming event, the work began the following day at Houston Baptist University and in the Texas Medical Center.

When the time came to start their work at HBU, the student nurses began attending many classes and making visits to hospitals and clinics in the Texas Medical Center. They are pictured to the left with the student nursing staff at HBU. Their study and orientation activities in the first week included a visit to the Texas Chiropractic College and they were hosted there by Dr. Kenneth Sorrels who took them on a tour of the college, including a look at the lab where they study cadavers to learn about the human body. They are shown in the photo to the right with Dr. Sorrells and Dr. Renae Schumann, Dean, of the School of Nursing and Allied Health and Associate Professor of Nursing at Houston Baptist University. They were also honored by Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council of Houston with a proclamation declaring the day of their visit as "Houston-Grampian Nursing Exchange Program Day".

Very early in this first week, the students went to Galveston for a look at the Gulf Coast and went swimming in the ocean. They also went to a shooting range where they fired pistols at targets and proclaimed themselves "very good" at this. They were also treated to attendance at the Pasadena Rodeo and got to see a Sugar Land Skeeters baseball game.

The Sugar Land Skeeters are an American professional baseball team based in Sugar Land, Texas. They are a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent league not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Skeeters are the first Atlantic League team to play outside of the Northeast; the team is also the first of a planned Western division to include four to six other teams. The Skeeters are the first independent league baseball team in the Greater Houston metropolitan area since the Houston Buffaloes' final season in 1961. The team's name "Skeeters" is a Southern slang word for mosquito, and the result of a team-sponsored fan poll. Part of the reason for the naming is that mosquitoes are very common in the summer nights in Texas. In these photos, to the left there are cowboy hats as the girls are shown before heading to the rodeo with HBU student nurse program coordinator Sue Schneider, and to the right, they are with the Skeeter's mascot, "Swatson" at the game.

As part of their medical orientation to the Houston Medical Center and to have a chance to see how we do things here in Texas, the students had a chance to visit Methodist Hospital, Memorial Hermann Hospital and also Texas Children's Hospital, each of which offered a good look at nursing in the hospital environment and especially in the treatment of children of all ages. Interestingly, the visit to Texas Children's Hospital included a look at the Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, which provides women, mothers and babies with a full continuum of high-quality, expert health care. It is staffed with leading gynecologists and obstetricians who take care of mothers before, during and after birth as well as throughout their life. Located inside of Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, the Texas Children's Fetal Center is one of a few worldwide with specialists in fetal diagnostic and intervention therapies.

At Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital the RGU students met with nursing senior management and toured the hospital prior to going with HBU faculty members to Texas Children's to observe students in clinical rotations. They are shown in the photos below, first at Memorial Hermann with Nancy Yuill, Manager of Performance Improvement and formerly Dean of Nursing at HBU. In the next photo they are shown with Susan Priest (Assistsnt Professor of Nursing at HBU) doing critical care clinical observation. The third photo was taken of the students in an area of Texas Children's Hospital near art work which was done by patients.


A special executive tour of St. Luke's Hospital was conducted by HGA vice-president Quin McWhirter, whose grandfather founded the hospital in the early 1950s. At each stop in St. Luke's the charge nurses gave testimony to how much they have all enjoyed their time as nurses, and the critical importance that being a nurse provides a person. Quin is shown below with the HBU and RGU students at the end of the very instructive and informative tour.

Although we've been doing this tour for several years, we had some "firsts" this year and this turned out to be the best tour we've ever experienced. I guess that's how it is supposed to work. For the first time, we began the tour with lunch in St. Luke's Bertner Avenue Cafe and everyone enjoyed it immensely. The students are shown to the left just as lunch began. Also, for the first time we were able to observe two separate surgeries, both of the open heart variety. We began the tour in the Denton Cooley Building where the Heart Museum is located and it has a full history of items, objects, surgical instruments, photos, documentation and everything else that could be expected from one of the greatest heart surgeons in the world, Dr. Denton A. Cooley and his work at St. Luke's over the many years he practiced. Retired now for a number of years, Dr. Cooley is 98 years old and still comes to St. Luke's every day.

Our first stop in the working section of the hospital was the Emergency Room, where a charge nurse explained St. Luke's ER services and history, and then took the group on a tour of the very modern facility. In their remarks at the dinner later that day, the students from RGU said that the ER offered service very similar to those in Scottish ER facilities. The next location visited was the Cardiac ICU and it proved to be a cutting-edge facility and a good bit of time there was spent learning about the process of lowering body temperature to prevent heart attack. The machine used for this process was demonstrated to the students and they showed great interest in the results obtained by its use. Also discussed were other procedures used routinely and in emergencies in the cardiac intensive care unit. The nurse who conducted this tour has worked at St. Luke's for 40 years and her passion for nursing was very evident in all that she said.

Perhaps the highlight of the tour was the time spent in the surgical observation dome to watch open heart surgery. It was fortunate that the students got to observe two surgeries this year. The first was on a patient who had suffered heart failure and the second was a coronary bypass. To provide great insight into open heart surgery and the accomplishments of the St. Luke's heart surgeons, please click Open Heart Surgery for a good look at the history of the development of coronary bypass surgery, heart transplantation and artificial heart implantation.As you'll note in the video, Dr. Cooley was the first surgeon in the world to perform a heart transplant and his history is documented in the video. The final stop was in The Terrace, an upscale and very modern floor of hospital suites, each complete with the patient's room and bathroom, plus a separate comfortable section for family members to stay overnight with the patient. Below are photos of our students the Emergency Room, in Cardiac Intensive Care, in the Surgery Observation Dome and in one of the suites in The Terrace


Following the tour, preparations were made for the banquet at HBU honoring the student nurses and for this event, we were joined by our friends from Grampian Houston who came at this time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the student nurse exchange program with us. our Grampian Houston counterparts arrived early during the students' second week with us and were given a reception at the Hilton the following evening. Shown below are members of HGA and GHA celebrating this time together as preparations were being made for the 20th anniversary official banquet and celebration.

Prior to sitting to dine and celebrate, the Scottish visitors spent time visiting and remembering the years of the student nursing exchang and enjoying the social time together. They are shown to the left with happy smiles and anticipation of the celebration that was about to begin. Also, the lucky webmaster was honored to be in the photo to the right with the four student nurses.

Then the first-ever joint meeting of Grampian Houston and Houston Grampian began as we honored the student nurses on this very special year of the program. After an enjoyable meal served by the HBU food staff, our students each spoke and gave their impressions of the similarities and differences regarding how nursing is done in Aberdeen and in Texas. They also took questions from the members. Of particular interest was the subject of the waiting time for procedures to be scheduled in Scotland vs. the time in Texas, plus the difference between hospital rooms in the Texas Medical Center as opposed to primarily wards in the hospitals in Scotland. They also noted a number of similarities of both procedures and the commitment of nurses in both locations. Below are photos of the students speaking and the students together with Carol Decker of HGA and Marlene McLeod and Kristin Jackson-Brown. Shown also is the dinner table at which HGA CEO Mary Metz and GHA's Jimmy Hay enjoyed dinner.


Next up on the itinerary of the 20th anniversary celebration were events which, to see some of Houston's cultural side, included a visit to the Rienzi Museum of Fine Arts and lunch at Kenny & Ziggy's Deli, followed by a tour of HBU and on the following day, a tour of the Houston Tunnel System under the downtown Houston area and lunch at the Houston Club. Shown above are photos taken by Jimmy Hay at the Rienzi Museum.

A tour of St. Luke's Hospital was also conducted, although without the surgical observation that the students got to see.

Following the St. Luke's tour, an unplanned visit to the campus of Rice University just "happened" and the GHA members were able to be driven up into the Rice football stadium and drive through the upper level of it to see the field and take photos. This is the place where President John F. Kennedy made his famous We choose to go to the moon speech in September, 1962. (Click the underlined link to hear his speech.) The GHA members are shown to the left at St. Luke's and to the right in Rice Stadium. Ian McLeod summed up the group's feelings about these two tours saying, "This was truly an experience!"

The climax of the visits of the student nurses and the members of Grampian Houston, was our 20th anniversary celebration held at the Braeburn Country Club. Remarks were given by Dr. Robert Sloan, President of Houston Baptist University who presented a "thank you" award to Brett Jackson, Vice President of GHA. Brett also made remarks expressing the appreciation and enthusiasm of Grampian Houston for the years of successful exchange efforts. Then a special presentation was made by HGA Chairman, Mary Metz to Helen Schmolke, who initiated the Student Nursing Exchange Program 20 years ago. Mary presented a proclamation honoring Helen for this initiative and expressing the thanks of all of us who have participated in and benefited from the program. To see the proclamation, please click HERE, and to see more details about Helen, please click her name in the link above which takes you to an article about her in a 2005 article about her in the Houston Chronicle.

In addition to current student nurses from HBU and RGU, we were also most fortunate to have in attendance, thee former students, now gainfully employed. They include 2010 HBU students Christin Handy and Evelyn DeLeon, and 2011 RGU student Valerie Stephen. Marriages and children have taken place among them since their graduation and they are all very successful and happy. They are shown in the photo below with our four 2014 students.

And, finally . . . at the conclusion of the celebration event, the entire group in attendance gathered for a photo as a very fond remembrance of this event and all that it represented. The company of Grampians and Houstonians is shown below.

With the week successfully completed there was a unanimous feeling of success in having exceeded the expectations for the celebration and all of the events we were able to do. Saturday morning, after the formal dinner, we gathered at HBU one last time for a delicious brunch provided by their kitchen staff. We enjoyed sharing the memories of the time together and re-committing to the success of the student nursing exchange program for another 20 years. Realizing that we are truly blessed by this relationship, we bade each other farewell and safe travel and expressed hopes of meeting again soon.


To see most (all but 2013) previous years' visits between the sister cities, click HERE