City Tech Launches Exchange Program with Kaunas University of Medicine in Lithuania

Brooklyn, NY — January 11, 2010 –The Department of Nursing at New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York and the faculty of nursing at Kaunas University of Medicine in Kaunas, Lithuania, have entered into a collaborative learning and research-focused faculty exchange program.

This partnership, bringing together a university in the European Union – Lithuania is a post-Soviet Baltic country that has been part of the EU since 2004 — and a U.S. college, will make use of communications technology to enable students and faculty from both institutions to study together and conduct joint research.

“In this global economy, the healthcare systems of the U.S. and Lithuania have much to learn from each other,” says Dr. Barbara Grumet, Dean of the School of Professional Studies at City Tech. “While many nursing programs have exchanges, both formal and informal, we will be using technology to take the relationship to a new and unique level of collaboration.”

For instance, students and faculty from both countries will be able to interact by attending virtual seminars and academic meetings by means of distance learning methods. These include Skype, Blackboard and webinars, among other activities. “Given that money is tight these days for faculty travel and research, we are proceeding in ways that can be done economically, by using technology,” continues Dean Grumet.

City Tech Nursing Professors, Drs. Patricia A. Cholewka and Candy Dato, visited Kaunas University of Medicine earlier in 2009 to formally initiate the partnership. “We met nursing and associated healthcare faculty, toured healthcare facilities, observed nurse practical training classes and spoke with nursing students,” Dr. Dato notes.

In addition, Dr. Cholewka presented a paper, “Integrating Wireless Technology into the Nursing Curriculum in a Clinical Simulation Laboratory,” at a national nursing conference being held at Kaunas University of Medicine.

The concept for the exchange program grew out of meetings held in 2008 at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania between Drs. Cholewka and Jurate Macijauskiene, MD, PhD, dean of the faculty of nursing at Kaunas University of Medicine. At the time, Dr. Cholewka was residing in Vilnius as a Fulbright Scholar at Vilnius University. Her relationship with Kaunas University of Medicine began in 1991.

“The possibilities for joint research are very exciting,” Cholewka says. “For example, we could compare and contrast health and cultural issues related to immigrants from Eastern Europe living in Brooklyn with Lithuanian nationals, nursing education, nursing practice policies and the use of information technology by nurses within each healthcare system.’

Lithuania’s nursing programs were largely designed by Scandinavian and U.S. (Minnesotan) nurses, according to Dr. Cholewka. She adds that the bulk of that nation’s economic and educational programs were designed with U.S. ethnic Lithuanian support.

“With our new cross-cultural partnership, I am supporting the strength of the Lithuanian healthcare system through my knowledge, education and contacts as a Lithuanian-American healthcare specialist,” she explains. “The expertise of my nursing colleagues will bring strength and staying-power to this endeavor.”

Dr. Grumet hopes that eventually other academic departments at City Tech will establish a relationship with their counterparts at Kaunas University of Medicine to lend an interdisciplinary focus to the partnership between the two institutions.

New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York is the largest public college of technology in New York State. The College enrolls 15,400 students in 60 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs. An additional 15,000 enroll in continuing education and workforce development programs. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, City Tech is at the MetroTech Center academic and commercial complex.