2012 Student Nurses Exchange

We've begun this year's exchange program in grand style, meeting the HBU staff and our student nurses on the HBU campus in the Green Room of the Morris Cultural Arts Center. With delightful hospitality from Dr. Margaret Ugalde and Susan Schneider, a lovely, light lunch was served and we had a good get-acquainted visit with the student nurses.

Our HBU students are Rachelle Gerke and Kathy Sacueza, and they are sharp and focused students, and looking forwrd to their trip to Aberdeen. We shared things from past years with them and told them a few things they would be doing in Aberdeen, including the great hospitality they would experience there during an intense learning program. They will be departing for the UK on May 12 and will return to Houston on the 26th. The RGU student nurses who will accompny them in Aberdeeen are Beverly Brown and Iona Hyndwill, and again, we are blessed to have the trip underwritten by the Wood Group. Carol Decker begins her second year heading the exchange program for HGA and Mary Metz remains a close advisor to her. Mary and Carol are shown in the photo to the left with the HBU student nurses and from left to right they are Mary, Brianna, Traci and Carol. Also attending were our hosts, Dr. Ugalde, Susan Schneider, RN, Instructor in nursing and Evanne Ekstrand, assistant to Dr. Ugalde. She graciously took the photos and the entire group is shown to the right above and are from left to right, Susan Schneider, Rachelle Gerke, Kathy Secueza, Mary Metz, Carol Decker, Marti McWhirter, Quin McWhirter and Dr. Margaret Ugalde.

2011 Student Nurses Exchange

With no natural disasters or health scares staring us in the face this year, we began our 2011 Student Nurse Exchange program with a meeting in the office of Dr. Margaret Ugalde, Dean of the School of Nursing at HBU, to meet the student nurses, discuss their itineraries, provide them with a check for spending money and to discuss the activities they would have in Aberdeen. We also got to discuss some of the plans for the return visit in September of the students from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

This year's HBU students are Brianna Estelle Tyler and Traci Milan Estacio, and they were both looking forward to their trip to Aberdeen, which began with their departure on May 14 and their return to Houston on May 29. Their counterparts from RGU in Aberdeen are Kay Strachan and Valerie Stephen and they arrived in Houston in September. Our initial meeting was the official beginning of Carol Decker's chairmanship of the exchange program for HGA, and Mary Metz also provided a great deal of the information that would be necessary to insure all of the right arrangements. Mary and Carol are shown in the photo to the left with the HBU student nurses and from left to right they are Mary, Brianna, Traci and Carol. Also attending were our hosts, Dr. Ugalde, Susan Schneider, RN, Instructor in nursing and Evanne Ekstrand, assistant to Dr. Ugalde. She graciously took the photos and the entire group is shown to the right above and are from left to right, Susan Schneider, Mary Metz, Brianna Tyler, Quin McWhirter, Traci Estacio, Carol Decker and Dr. Margaret Ugalde.

Bill Neish advised us that the 2011 student exchange nurses were entertained with lunch at the Aberdeen Town House by Lord and Lady Provost Peter and Sandra Stephen. He also provided photos of the event and you can see on the left, the group gathered at the Townhouse. In this photo, Kay Strachan is shown signing the visitorsí book with (left to right) co-ordinators of the exchange visit, Leanne Morrison of RGU and Margaret Hadley of Grampian/Houston Association, and our student nurses, Traci Estacio and Brianna Tyler, RGU student nurses Kay Strachan and Valerie Stephen, and Lord and Lady Provost Peter and Sandra Stephen.

Bill also indicated that the HBU-RGU exchange has attracted the attention of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Their Director of Pre-Registration Nursing, D.r Gary Ramsey visited RGU during our student nurses' exchange visit, to learn more about the exchange, and he met Traci, Brianna, Kay and Valerie.

The student nurses were entertained the following evening by Ian and Marlene McCloud of Grampian/Houston at the Deeside Golf Club. Dr Ramsey of the University of Tennessee had made comment on the small portions served at meals in Scotland. Bill Neish said, "I think Ian McLeod must have arranged for outsize helping of sticky toffee pudding for Traci and Brianna." They are shown above right in a photo taken at Deeside Golf Club with Ian and Marlene McCloud. That smile on Ian's face may be something of a give-away regarding arranging for a Texas-size portion of sticky toffee pudding. Take note of the portions of Sticky Toffee Pudding sitting in front of some people! And on the left, after warm greetings and tours by their hosts, the students jumped into their uniforms for the work/study portion of the trip. They are shown here from left to right Kay Strachan, Valerie Stephen, Traci and Brianna. But they couldn't keep the girls in the classroom all the time and during one of their escapes, they had a lovely tour of Duthie Gardens and they are shown on the right in one of their more serious moments of that tour with a couple of local characters. Then, shown below are some of the gorgeous scenery they beheld at Duthie Gardens and anyone who has been blessed to tour the facility can appreciated its magnificence.



The GHA membership also honoured the student nurses at a dinner. During the course of the evening, GHA Chairman Raymond Bissett presented Brianna and Traci with inscribed quaiches as a memento of their time in Aberdeen, and all four students expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the 2011 exchange. In the photo to the left, you can see the gathered company of the evening and seated in the front with the student nurses, is GHA Chairman Raymond Bisset.Following their visit to Houston, students Kay Strachan and Valerie Stephen gave an excellent presentation to the GHA Board, discussing their visit.They are shown in the photo to the right. Seated (L toR) are Leanne Morrison of RGU, Valerie, Heather Anderson and Kay. Standing: David Paton, Ron McKail, Ian Gordon, John Reynolds, George Duncan,Margaret Hadley, Marlene McLeod, Bob Davidson, Lady Provost Sandra Stephen, Sandra Fulton and Eric Duncan.

The girls enjoyed a day off for shopping the following day and an opportunity for visiting Balmoral Castle before flying home on Sunday. Concerns had developed during their time in Aberdeen about the ash cloud hanging over Scotland from the volcano eruption in Iceland, but fortunately, it moved away and did not prevent them from continuing their flight schedule home.



In September, Valerie and Kay made their way to Houston to begin their two week visit of study, culture and fellowship with the Houston Baptist University students and with the Houston Grampian Association members. They hit the ground running, sitting in on a couple of classes at HBU while still jet-lagged and were taken out for dinner by HGA board member and coordinator of our visiting student nurse program, Carol Decker. They got to attend a HBU women's volleyball game vs. Mississippi State and are pictured to the left with HBU's Husky mascot Wakiza (Kiza). They also went to a High School football game and then to a rodeo shown to the right, getting a real flavor of Texas.

Their first visit to the Texas Medical Center was to enjoy an executive tour of St. Luke's Episcopal hospital, and it included a visit to the emergency room area, and a chance to observe a liver transplant in the surgery observation dome area. They also got to spend time in the cardiac ICU and to interact with the RN coordinator of the unit. Prior to the official part of the tour, they visited the Denton Cooley museum to see the history of Dr. Cooley's activities in heart surgery and the development of the artificial heart. Their final stop at St. Luke's was in the area called The Terrace, where the highest level of hospital care is given and where many dignitaries and international patients are housed during their stay at St. Luke's.

They are shown below during their time at St. Luke's, in the first photo with Signature Guest Associate Mimi Hooper from the Executive Offices, and in the second photo viewing some of the historical memorabilia on display from the early days of St. Luke's, with HGA Vice Presdent Quin McWhirter and Marti McWhirter, RN, and finally in a photo taken just outside the Chapel next to the portrait of St. Luke's founder, Bishop Clinton S. Quin. Joining them in this photo is also HBU Nursing INstructor Susan Schneider and the McWhirters.


A lively and enthusiastic crowd was present for the dinner honoring the four student nurses prior to the departure of Kay and Valerie back to Aberdeen. There was a great mix of HBU staff, HGA members and of course, our four students who all spoke highly of their experiences during their visits to Aberdeen and to Houston. In their Power Point presentation discussing the student nurses' visits to Aberdeen and to Houston, they highlighted the similarities and the differences between how health care is administered in the UK and in Texas. A major point they made was that each uses a system of health care that works for patients and practitioners in the two countries. On hand were HBU Advancement Officer Tommy Bambrick, Ed.D. and Dr. Margaret Ugalde, Director of Student Nursing. Student exchange coordinators Sue Schneider from HBU and Carol Decker from HGA coordinated the entire program and both made remarks and introductions. It was a distinct honor to have Helen Schmolke, the person who initiated the student nursing exchange program for Houston Grampian, and she really enjoyed being with us to see the progress made in the 17 years since she began the program. This remarkable lady who is legally blind and has a hearing impairment has done incredible work in the community and practiced nursing as an RN for over 50 years. Please click HERE to read the Houston Chronicle's 2005 article about her telling the story of all that she has done. She is shown in the photo to the right.

HGA President Ross Davidson opened the dinner with greetings to all, and special thanks were given expressing our gratitude to the Wood Group for their sponsorship of the student nursing exchange program. We were privileged to have with us our new British Consul General, The Honorable Andrew Millar, and he made remarks to us about nursing and the people who have chosen to be in it as their life's work, and he showed a most sensitive and intuitive understanding about the kind of person who chooses this path.
He connected so well with all of us and especially the HBU folks with his revelation of insight about the nursing profession and his deep appreciation for those who have chosen it. Andrew is shown to the left with Dr. Margaret Ugalde, Mary Metz and Ross Davidson. Leslie Santamaria was with us also, and made remarks on behalf of the Mayor of Houston and the Houston Sister Cities organization. She presented gifts to the student nurses and congratulated them on their accomplishments.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a wonderful photo of Aberdeen, which was presented by former HGA President and founding member, Aurise Bain, to HBU on behalf of Houston Grampian. The name of the picture is, "Aberdeen City Lights and Full Moon" by Eric Auld, and on the picture is a gold plaque which says, "From Lord Provost Margaret Smith and Citizens of Aberdeen". It further strengthened the bond between HGA and HBU and will be a constant reminder of the successful collaborative effort between our two organizations and our sister city organization in Aberdeen, plus HBU's sister organization, Robert Gordon University. Shown to the right with the photo are Mary Metz, MBE, Sue Schneider, Dr. Margaret Ugalde and Aurise Bain.

Photos of the student nurses' dinner were taken by our three photographers for the evening, Moira Holden, Mary Metz and Sue Schneider. The webmaster is most appreciative of their efforts to make this summary of the evening as memorable as possible. Below are photos of attendees at the event and they include two of our MBEs, Mary Metz and Kevin Howard. Also shown in the second tier is past president Dwight Beach, HBU's Tommy Bambrick and British Consul General Andrew Millar.






2010 Student Nurses Exchange

Following the completion of fifteen years of a most successful program, we now launch our 2010 program, just as the eruption from the volcano in Iceland settles, and our two student nurses, Evelyn DeLeon and Christin Handy, from HBU begin the exchange with a May 15 departure from Houston. Their visit of two weeks in Aberdeen was scheduled to bring them home to Houston on May 29, but a cancellation of their flight enabled them to spend some time in London before returing home. The reciprocal visit by the two student nurses from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Susan Naysmith and Ryan Whyte, arrive for their exchange visit to Houston on September 17, returning to Scotland on October 2.

For thirteen of its fifteen years, the program has been managed on the Houston/Grampian side, by Mary Metz and she has personally coordinated with HBU and with our sister organization, Grampian/Houston in Aberdeen to ensure a safe and successful experience for all involved. This year, she will be assisted by our new board member, Carol Decker, who's help will be very much appreciated.

The first activity to kick-off this year's exchange visit began in a meeting which included Houston Grampian Chairman Mary Metz, and Marti and Quin McWhirter with the student nurses and with Dr. Doris Warren, the Dean of the college of Science and Interim Dean of the College of Nursing, and Dr. Margaret Ugalde, Associate Dean of the College of Nursing. The purpose of this initial meeting was to present airline tickets to the students along with expense money to cover their room and boaard in Aberdeen, plus other activities while they in Scotland. The meeting attendees are shown in these photos - on the photo above left, shown from left to right are Dr. Warren, Dr. Ugalde, Evelyn DeLeon, Mary Metz and Christin Handy. The photo to the right above shows, from left to right, Marti McWhirter, Evelyn DeLeon, Mary Metz, Christin Handy and Quin McWhirter.

The HBU student nurses were our guests on May 1 at the OTC Breakfast that we host each year at the Hilton Post Oak Hotel, to kick off the annual Offshore Technology Conference. Our hosting partners for the breakfast again this year were the BABC. Shortly after the OTC breakfast, Evelyn and Christin departed for Aberdeen to begin their exchange visit and met the student nurses from Robert Gordon University for the first time. Susan Naysmith and Ryan Whyte from RGU are shown in the photo to the left just after a sponsored run, and the folks in Houston are looking forward to meeting them in person when they arrive on their exchange visit in September. In the meantime, we have enjoyed getting to know them on Facebook and exchanging information and photos with them. There is a complete array of photos taken during last year's exchange visits in both Aberdeen and Houston, on our Facebook site.

With their exchange visit sponsored by THE WOOD GROUP, Evelyn and Christin began their trip from Houston to Aberdeen, Scotland as what they described as, "two very excited nursing students". Thanks to Mary Metz, the girls were upgraded to Business Class and enjoyed "flying in style". During their first two days in Scotland, they enjoyed scenic tours around Aberdeen and a visit to the Health Science Center at RGU, where they said the skills lab was a great experience for them. They had the opportunity to take a basic life support class with all of the great equipment. They are pictured with the RGU students in the skills lab as they posed for pictures taken by the Aberdeen Press and Journal.

During their visit, they went to several health facilities and clinical venues, including The Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital, Accident and Emergency, Skene Community Medical Practice and the Intensive Care Unit. Other educational experiences included participating in a mental health class at RGU and engaging in deep discussion regarding adult and pediatric palliative care with various professors. The trip was not all work and no play, as the four students had a wonderful weekend in St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Many sites were seen up and down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and Evelyn and Christin most enjoyed the beautiful architecture and castle. Parliment was also an educational experience giving them a chance to learn more about the Scottish government. During the latter half of the trip, they spent time with many of the Grampian Houston members, and even had dinner and tea with the Lord and Lady Provost. They are shown to the right signing the guestbook at the Townhouse with the Lord Provost. The trip culminated at the HGA dinner when everyone dined together and recognized the importance of the trip for both HBU and RGU nursing students. Evelyn and Christin said that they will always treasure this opportunity and the people of Aberdeen in their hearts. It taught them the importance of being culturally competent nurses and individuals. And their parting words . . . "Bon Accord!" For their collection of photos taken in Aberdeen, click our Facebook site.

Soon after their arrival in Aberdeen, a very nice article appeared in the Press and Journal and you can click to read it. The four student nurses are shown to the right as they began their activities all together for the first time. At the conclusion of their visit, the student nurses were honored with a dinner, and Bill Neish, our good friend in Aberdeen, wrote a very nice letter about the event and his letter said, in part, "We had a lovely dinner party with the four exchange students last night. Evelyn and Christin made a very favourable impression and gave an excellent account of themselves. Our Chairman Raymond Bisset presented them with inscribed quaichs (Scottish loving cups usually filled with whisky) but as the girls are teetotallers they may choose to fill them with something non-alcoholic. We were joined by one of our 2009 exchange nurses Gillian McRobie who shadowed Evelyn in Houston last year. We were pleased to hear Darien Ruiz, and perhaps Ana Mendez, are planning to travel to Aberdeen for Gillianís graduation this summer.

Lord and Lady Provost Stephen were present and they also entertained the girls to dinner privately one evening this week which was kind of them, particularly considering the busy schedule they fulfil. Lord Provost Stephen will be in office until May, 2012, so we can count on his support for the 2011 student exchange. Evelyn and Christinís return home has been delayed by the British Airways strike action but they are looking forward to spending a couple of days in London before they fly home on Monday. I met our new contacts at RGU Ė Avril Milne and Leanne Morrison Ė for the first time last night and they seem very enthusiastic about the exchange. The new Head of the School of Nursing at RGU Prof. Wilkinson is also supportive so thatís encouraging.

Iím sure you will recognise many of the faces in the attached picture taken last night. The month of May in Scotland has been fairly sunny but distinctly cool, certainly not shirtsleeve weather."

Our student nurses are shown below with hosts from Robert Gordon University School of Nursing and Grampian/Houston, and they are from left to right, Steve Oí Brien (associate head of school), Leanne Morrison, Susan Naysmith, Gillian McRobie, Evelyn DeLeon, Christin Handy, Mary Ingram, Ryan Whyte, Margaret Hadley and Andy McKie (personal tutor for Susan Naysmith and Mental Health Lecturer). They are also pictured in their RGU student nurse uniforms.


On September 17, Susan and Ryan arrived in Houston and were met by Mary Metz, HGA Chairman, and Susan Schneider from HBU who is coordinating the itinerary for the visiting students. Their first official activity was to attend a Nurses Association meeting at Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. On Saturday evening, the HGA Board of Directors met with all four student nurses at a dinner buffet hosted by Mary Metz in her home. Carol Decker, HGA board member assisted Mary, along with her husband Dean, who served as bartender. Shown on the left are Carol and Mary in the kitchen preparing to serve the buffet, and shown on the right are Susan Howard and our two visiting student nurses.

Below is a portion of the gathering of directors and guests and from left to right are Christin Handy, Susan Ryder, Ryan Whyte, Jane Fowler, Evelyn DeLeon, Marti McWhirter, John Fowler, Joanne Zumbrun and Carol Mills. To the right below are Ryan and Susan, Susan Howard, John Lee and Kevin Howard.



During the course of their intense time on the exchange visit to Houston, Susan and Ryan were challenged with both classroom and medical center opportunities. In the classroom they engaged in classes focusing on pediatrics, vulnerable populations, nurse leadership and general science-based lectures applicable to nursing. They learned that the HBU students each were heavily involved in the care of one or two patients and were expected to understand in great depth the clinical condition of these patients and to develop an appropriate nursing plan for them.

Their visits to medical facilities and clinical venues included time at Methoist Hospital, Martin Luther King Medical Clinic, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Texas Children's Hospital, Menninger Clinic, HCPC and The Parc (rehab center for substance abusers), Memorial Hermann Hospital and the Texas Chiropractic College. They also enjoyed a weekend "off" with a trip to Austin and San Antonio. In Austin, they visited the Texas State Capitol and in San Antonio, the spent time cruising down the River Walk area and also visited the Alamo, where they learned there had been four Scots who fought along with the Texans in the famous battle there. Other recreational activities included attending their first baseball game at Minute Maid Park to see the Houston Astros defeat the Cincinnati Reds, attending a contemporary dance performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre, a visit to the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center and a trip to Galveston.

There were actually two visits to St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital and the Texas Heart Institute and in the first one, Evelyn and Susan are shown on the left "hugging" the heart out in front of THI. Their second visit to St. Luke's was an executive tour near the end of their time in Houston and they began the day having breakfast in St. Luke's at the Bertner Street Cafe, followed by a tour of the emergency health facility and then met in the executive offices of St. Luke's. Below, they are shown just prior to the official tour began, first having breakfast with Marti McWhirter, RN and then in the Lobby of St. Luke's with Quin McWhirter, standing by a bronze figure dedicated to the nurses of St. Luke's "For their Special Spirit of Caring." They are also pictured in the next photo with executive officers of St. Luke's and from left to right are St. Luke's Assistant Vice President of Nursing - Marie Clark, Vice President of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer - Susan Myers, Susan Ryder, Ryan Whyte and Mimi Hooper - Signature Guest Associate. The tour was coordinated by Mimi Hooper and conducted primarily by Marie Clark and the areas visited were most impressive.


First was a visit to the surgery observation dome to view open heart surgery and also a gall bladder removal. The timing was perfect as the open heart operation was just beginning and the students viewed the opening of the patient and cracking of the chest to access the heart and the area to be bypassed. The adjacent photos are of our students viewing the surgery via the observation dome. After this eye-opening time, they moved to the recovery area and spoke with the Charge Nurse and also got to visit with a patient with a heart stimulation device attached to keep his heart beating. There was a subsequent visit on another floor to talk to another patient with a somewhat similar device who is now able to take a portable version of the device home and live life pretty normally.

The students next visited the Research Lab for testing devices being developed to assist the cardiology function and to see how the research is done and how it leads to the kinds of devices which are now supporting the patients visited earlier. Next, a trip upstairs to The Terrace, a sort of luxury accommodation area for patients with special needs and the ability to pay a higher price for their time in the hospital. The tour concluded with a visit to the Denton Cooley Heart Museum displaying many of the tools and equipment that have been used over the years to serve heart patients.



At the conclusion of the students' visit to HBU and Houston, as is our custom, a dinner was held honoring all four student nurses and they made a presentation summarizing their exchange visits and their thoughts about things learned, things shared, things similar and things different. It was a very well-done, thought-provoking Power Point presentation, after which they answered questions from those gathered. They are shown to the left during their presentation.

This year's dinner was attended by a large group of HBU School of Nursing staff members and our speakers shown above, which included Mr. Charles Bacarisse, Vice President for Advancement at HBU, Susan Schneider, HBU Nurses Exchange Coordinator, The Honorable Paul Lynch, British Consul General and Ms. Leslie Santamaria of the Houston International Protocol Alliance, who is the Sister Cities Coordinator with whom we interface. Next was Susan Schneider, who coordinated the program for HBU. Also speaking later was our Chairman Mary Metz, who has headed this exchange program for HGA since it's inception, and she announced that this will be her last year to manage to exchange. She will be succeeded beginning next year by HGA board member Carol Decker. Mary is shown above right with all four of our student nurses on campus.




An example of the observations by the Scottish students regarding differences between our two health care systems, political and regulatory differences and other general observations can be seen in these notes from Ryan Whyte, which you can read by clicking HERE. This is very enlightening and a good example of how the Scots experienced and observed our systems. To see many more photos of their visit to Houston, plus our students' visit to Aberdeen, click our Facebook site.


2009 Student Nurses Exchange

As we began our fifteenth year of sponsorship of our student nurses exchange program, their was the hope that the program may soon be taking on a
new aspect, as it has been recommended by our sister organization, Grampian/Houston, that a practicing nurse accompany the two student nurses when they make their visits to Aberdeen and Houston, respectively. We are not able to begin this new phase in 2009
but hope that perhaps we can do it next year and in the years to come. This year, our student nurses from HBU are Ana Paula Mendez Barrera and Darien Ruiz Capetillo and they departed for Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in August. Normally their trip would have been in May, but because of the Swine Flu concerns, the trip had to be rescheduled for August 8 - 22, and it turned out to be a most successful trip, both from a standpoint of studying nursing in Scotland, and having a lot of fun as well. They are shown in the photo to the right.

The student nurses from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen shown on the right are Gillian McRobie and Jane McNicol, and they will visit us in September. All of the student nurses have left messages on our Facebook page and we invite all of our friends who have Facebook pages to do so as well. Our Facebook page has begun to provide a lively exchange among members and friends of Houston/Grampian and Grampian/Houston and of the student nurses themselves. Even if you are not a member of our organizations, we invite you to be friends and to join us with your Facebook page.

Another first this year is that our student nurses from Houston Baptist University attended our annual OTC Breakfast and we had the pleasure of meeting them just a week before they were originally scheduled to depart for their exchange visit to Aberdeen. Their photo is avove to the left and includes, l-r Darien Ruiz, Ana Pau Mendez, Mary Metz, Marti McWhirter, Lady Provost Sandra Stephen and Quin McWhirter. There was a definite air of excitement as they prepared to visit their counterparts in Aberdeen and to experience all of the wonders and pleasures they will find there.

With some difficulty in getting through the airport in London, our student nurses arrived in Aberdeen and began a fun and challenging time at RGU. Here they are on the right with two kilted gents, Ian McLeod and Geoff Hadley. Also in the photo are the student nurses from Aberdeen, Gillian McRobie and Jane McNicol. Provost Howatson, RGU President this year, presented the girls with inscribed quaichs as a memento of their visit to Scotland. He was particularly interested to meet the girls as his own daughter is about to begin a nursing course at Edinburgh University.

The week went by all too fast and as is our custom, the student nurses were kept very busy at Robert Gordon University, learning all about the nursing training and practice techniques in Scotland. During their visit, they also were treated to wonderful tours of Scottish sites, such as this castle in ruin shown on the left, and a great photo of these happy-go-lucky students under the Scottish flag.

With the adjustment in schedules following the H1N1 influenza virus outbreak, the student nurses from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Gillian McRobie and Jane McNicol, arrived in Houston on September 20th and began an intensive two-week itinerary of training, clinical visits in the Texas Medical Center, plus recreational activities and an opportunity for visiting with HBU students and families, and with members of HGA who hosted them for dinners, shopping and outings. They are shown to the left with Assistant Professor of Nursing, Patricia Dominguez of HBU. On their first day in Houston, they were whisked away to St. Luke's Hospital for an executive tour which included time observing surgery in the observation theater there, and a visit to the critical care facility with an opportunity to dialogue with the critical care nurses, and to compare notes with them on how various situations are handled in the United States compared with Scotland.

On the weekend which marked the halfway point of their visit, they were afforded the opportunity to visit San Antonio, along with our HBU student nurses, and that visit included a tour of the Alamo and a generous amount of time testing roller coasters (shown in photo above) and other rides at the Fiesta Texas theme park. Aside from a scary moment or two on the roller coasters, it was pure fun for them and they enjoyed it immensely.

Just before their final two days at HBU, we had our annual reception and dinner for the four student nurses, and an all-time record attendance of almost 50 people were on hand to visit and to see the extremely well-done computer slide presentation which was prepared by all four of them working as a team, and then to discuss with us the similarities and differences they had observed during their time in Aberdeen and in Houston. They were most outspoken about their observations, and their presentation resulted in quite a few questions from our very interested group of attendees. We were fortunate to have with us Dr. Robert Sloan, Jr., President of HBU, The Honorable Paul Lynch, British Consul General, former HBU Dean of Nursing, Nancy Yuill and current Associate Dean of Nursing and Allied Health, Dr. Margaret Ugalde and Patricia Dominguez, Assistant Professor of Nursing, who is the administrator for our student exchange program.

Shown in the photos to the right above are all of our speakers for the evening in the order in which they were at the podium. From left to right, are Dr. Sloan, Aurise Bain-HGA president, John Lee-saying Grace, our chairman Mary Metz and the Honorable Paul Lynch. Below are the tables of members and guests on hand to enjoy this event and to celebrate the success of the nursing students in their exchange visits. Then, below the dinner table bunch, is a photo of the visiting student nurses doing clinicals at the Texas Medical Center, and a photo of them with Mary Metz at the dinner.

Very soon after their return to Aberdeen, an article appeared in the "Press & Journal" with their comments about their visit to Houston. Click to see this nice write-up. Also, we have begun adding photos taken by the RGU student nurses during their visit to Houston and San Antonio. Here is a link to our Facebook page where there are many more photos of them to see, both in Aberdeen and in the United States. Already, we have photos of them at HBU, at Fiesta Texas, the Health Museum, the Medical Center doing clinicals, NASA and the Wild West. More photos will continue to be added. For their collection of photos taken in Aberdeen and in Texas, click our Facebook site.



2008 Student Nurses Exchange

This was our fourteenth year to sponsor the student nurses exchange, and the two students from Houston, Danielle Cowing and Shannon Sinclair departed for Aberdeen May 17, 2008 and returned to Houston May 31. In preparation for our nursing students departing for Aberdeen, a meeting was held at HBU with the Lady Provost of Aberdeen, Sandra Stephen, representatives from HBU and HGA and, of course, our student nurses. Mary Metz shared with the group, plans and the itinerary for their visit to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Mary has built and led this effort on behalf of the Houston Grampian Association for many years, including the arrangement of financing air fares, spending money, and making all the right contacts with our sister organization, Grampian Houston. Mary is shown here "holding court" as she detailed the plans for the entire trip from start to finish, and provided airline vouchers for the student nurses. Below, just prior to the end of this session, Mary and the Lady Provost are shown with Danielle and Shannon, and we've titled this photo, "Nurses with Royalty", which appropriately describes Mary and the Lady Provost shown in the center of the photo.

Danielle Cowing and Shannon Sinclair have been most active during their time at HBU and have received very high honors for their hard work and involvement in student nursing programs. Danielle was Treasurer of the Nursing Student Association (07 - 08), and was awarded the "Outstanding Student Nurse" for the Texas Nursing Student Association this year. She has maintained a balanced student life here on campus throughout her time in the nursing program. She is an active member of the Phi Mu social sorority. She also is a caregiver for a young woman with debilitating autism and compulsive disorder. Shannon is the Chair of Publications for the Nursing Student Association (07-08), and was awarded the "Most Improved Organization Publication" by the National Nursing Student Associatioin this year. Shannon has been instrumental in encouraging pre-nursing students on campus to join in this professional organization this academic year with her excellent communication through the NSA Workspace she developed. She is the editor of Nursing Notes, the department of Nursing student magazine, and Danielle is Chair of the Finance Committee.

They are shown below with a group of very interested people, just prior to leaving for their visit to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and had the opportunity to meet with Lady Provost of Aberdeen, Sandra Stephens during this session. From left to right are Deb Berry, Interim Dean - College of Nursing, Danielle Cowing, Mary Metz, Lady Provost Sandra Stephen Shannon Sinclair, Dr. Nancy Yuill - Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Marti McWhirter and Quin McWhirter.

An article in Mitchellís Diary by Peter Mitchell in Aberdeen, said, "One of the enduring spin-offs from links between Grampian and the Texan megalopolis of Houston is a student nurse exchange scheme. Flying home tomorrow after a two-week study visit to Aberdeen are Texas Student Nurse of the Year, Danielle Cowing, 23, and Shannon Sinclair, 22, from Houston Baptist University. IN October, two student nurses from Aberdeenís Robert Gordon University, Lisa Kendall, 32, of Aberdeen, and Louise Conaghan, 26, of Thurso, arrived in Texas. All of them had to write a report comparing healthcare provision and nurse education. The annual exchange is promoted by Grampian-Houston Association with support from NHS Grampian, Albyn Hospital, Aberdeen, the Wood Group and Absoft Computer Services, Bridge of Don. Shannon and Danielle visited hospitals in Aberdeen, the Skene Medical Practice at Westhill, research facilities and the RGU School of Nursing and Midwifery. The Texans also enjoyed dolphin-watching in the Moray Firth, tours of Glenfiddich Distillery and Deans of Huntly shortbread factory and a weekend in Edinburgh." During their great visit in Aberdeen, our student nurses were hosted by the Lord and Lady Provost at the Townhouse and are shown with their hosts below.

After a few days of learning how we do it in Houston, a reception was held during the NSA meeting at HBU at which time Lisa and Louise were honored by the HBU student nurses and the Houston Grampian Association. They are shown in the picture below with HGA Chairman Mary Metz, and Marti and Quin McWhirter.

On the evening of October 29, our annual dinner honoring all four student nurses was held at HBU and they made an excellent Power Point presentation documenting their experiences in Aberdeen and Houston and discussed the similarities and differences they found in the way nursing is practiced. They answered questions from the audience, and all of the HBU and HGA members were duly proud of the girls and their accomplishments. HGA President, Aurise Bain called the meeting to order and then Stewart Bain, MBE, gave a beautiful blessing for the dinner. They are shown in the photos below, and we were treated to a surprise visit by HBU President, Robert Sloan, who offered greetings from HBU and then the HBU Provost, Dr. Paul Bonicelli addressed the gathering.


Mary Metz introduced Dr. Nancy Yuill, Dean of the HBU College of Nursing and they are shown in the photo below to the left. The next picture is of the student nurses during their presentation and Q&A session. The last picture shows Aurise Bain and Nancy Yuill visiting during dinner.


There was agreement that this was the best dinner event in our history of the program and it is most gratifying to know that it is getting better and better. The young ladies who represented Aberdeen and Houston and their respective universities, did so proudly and with great accomplishmet.

2007 Student Nurses Exchange

The students from Houston Baptist University who participated in the program for 2007, Jennifer Marie Hall and Melody McClanahan are shown below with Mary Metz and are from left to right, Jennifer, Melody and Mary.

Jennifer and Melody are shown below on their exchange visit to Aberdeen with the student nurses from Aberdeen who will be visiting Houston in October. From left to right, they are Julie, Jennifer, Deborah and Melody. In the second photo, they are shown at a reception given for them with Margaret Hadley, co-orginator of the program for Grampian Houston.


During their time in Scotland, Jennifer and Melody got to see a lot of the country and enjoyed the tour of Edinburgh on the double decker bus that they rode on the tour. They are shown seening Edinburgh from their bus in the photo on the left, and at a reception by the Lord and Lady Provost of Aberdeen are shown with the group on the right.


Following their arrival in Houston in October, visiting nursing students from Aberdeen were welcomed at a reception at Houston Baptist University as they began their scheduled activities with us. They are shown below with HBU and HGA hosts and are pictured from left to right: Dr. Nancy Yuill of HBU College of Nursing, HBU students Jennifer Hall and Melody McClanahan, Mary Metz from HGA, and visiting nursing students from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Debora Moir and Julie Stewart.

Their time with us seemed to vaporize as they combined an intense regimen of training and hospital visits with fun things like shopping and even a whirlwind weekend trip to Dallas. These young ladies made the most of their time and gave us a very good report on what they had experienced when we got together at HBU for a dinner honoring them and to have dialogue with them about their experience. Royal Bank of Scotland very generously sponsored the event and Kevin Howard was present to celebrate with us. Remarks were made by these distinguished folks shown below, from left to right, HGA President Bob Gilbert, HBU President Robert Sloan, HBU Director of Nursing Nancy Yuill and British Consul General Paul Lynch, and a very happy Kevin Howard, Managing Dirctor of The Royal Bank of Scotland, our generous sponsors.

The highlight of the evening was hearing presentations from the four student nurses to share their experiences in the visits to Aberdeen and to Houston, and then to engage in a spirited question and answer session with us to better understand the differences between nursing in the UK and in the United States and to hear how each one had benefited from their participation. The photo below shows the group together with our Chairman, Mary Metz, who coordinated the event for HGA and at the microphone in this photo is Julie Stewart who had said she was nervous about speaking in front of this audience. She "held court" quite nicely and moderated much of the dialogue during this final portion of the program.

And finally, a great photo of our hosts for the wondeful evening, Melody McClanahan, Dr. Yuill, Dr. Sloan and Jennifer Hall. It was a treat for us to welcome Dr. Sloan to our gathering and to enjoy his participation and encouragement for our activities in this, our signature event.

2006 Student Nurses Exchange

The students from Houston Baptist University who participated in the program for 2006 were Alison Norman and Bill Miller. They are shown below with Mary Metz. In October, we received the visiting nurses from Aberdeen, Alison French and Kate Reeves.

During their visit to Aberdeen, our student nurses were hosted by the Lady Provost, Helen Reynolds at the Aberdeen Town House and are pictured below with her. They are from Left to Right: Margaret Hadley- Grampian Society, Marie Cameron- RGU Lecturer, Kate Reeve - RGU Student, William Miller- HBU Student, Helen Reynolds- Lady Provost, Alison Norman - HBU Student, Marlene McCloud - Grampian Society, Alison French - RGU Student.

The students toured Aberdeen and at the winter gardens they visited the Silver Jubilee plaque from the GHA/HGA celebration. The tie Bill is wearing in the photo below was given to him by Geoff Hadley. It's the Grampian tartan, which is hard to find these days. The second group shot with the students is at the dinner with the Grampian-Houston Assocation. Bill decided to get in the spirit of things and rented a kilt for the event. Finding a kilt in the Grampian tartan was difficult since the region doesn't exist any more (changed to Aberdeenshire). So, the one he's wearing is the McLeod tartan.


On October 1, the student nurses from Aberdeen arrived in Houston and were welcomed at a reception in their honor at the Nursing School of Houston Baptist University. They are shown below with HGA and HBU folks. From left to right are Mary Metz, Marti McWhirter, Alison French, Kate Reeve and Quin McWhirter.

All four student nurses are shown here and they are from left to right, Kate Reeve, Bill Miller, Alison French and Alison Norman.

Their intensive schedule began immediately and they were thrust into the medical arena in Houston at full speed. Mid way through their visit, we paused and held our 13th annual dinner to honor our student nurses, and it was hosted by Houston Baptist University in the Hinton Center. The group gathered prior to entering the meeting room and below is a photo of Tom Gossett with the four student nurses.

The dinner began with welcoming remarks by Tom Gossett, standing in for our President, James Prappas, who was out of town with his family. Jack Hume offered a blessing and the folks gathered from Houston Grampian and Houston Baptist University were treated to a great meal of Texas Bar-B-Q and all the trimmings. Mary Metz and Dr. Nancy Yuill made remarks and then the students were introduced to discuss their experiences in Aberdeen and Houston and to compare notes on their observations of differences in the approach taken to nursing in the two cities. Here you see Tom Gossett, Mary Metz, Dr. Yuill and Deputy Consul Michael Morley making remarks to the gathering.

The discussion by the student nurses regarding their comparisons of nursing in Houston and Aberdeen were most interesting, and their were numerous questions from the attendees to understand how they perceived careers and approaches to nursing differed. Below is a photo of the four nurses as they made their presentations and answered questions.

At the end of the evening, the four student nurses gathered with Dr. Yuill and Mary Metz for a final photo before beginning their second week in Houston. They are shown below.

For previous years' visits between the sister cities, click HERE