Experiencing Research and Culture in Stockholm, Sweden

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by

As a senior nursing student, Katie Kemp was looking for a unique January Interim experience to cap off her four years at Gustavus. Having previously traveled to Botswana and Tanzania while at Gustavus, Kemp decided to explore potential opportunities for her final January Interim abroad, but this time further north. Kemp first heard about the Wallenberg Grant while serving as a study abroad advisor for the Center for International and Cultural Education. The opportunity to learn more about and explore Sweden was appealing to Kemp and when Assistant Professor of Nursing, Lynnea Myers, took a leave of absence to participate in a unique research opportunity at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, a connection was made!

“I had the pleasure of working with Katie in my Research and Ethics in Health Sciences course in Spring 2015 at Gustavus” said Myers, a 2005 graduate of Gustavus and faculty at Gustavus since 2011. “Katie stood out as a bright and motivated student who had strong potential for a role in advanced practice nursing. When Katie contacted me shortly after I started my position at Karolinska, I was, of course, excited about the opportunity to help connect a Gustavus student to the world-class research environment at Karolinska.”

After being accepted as one of the four Wallenberg scholars to participate in a January internship in Sweden, Kemp arrived in the mostly dark month of January and hit the ground running in the research environment at Karolinska. Kemp worked with Myers to explore data that had been collected through a major national study called Roots of Autism Twin Study Sweden (RATSS). RATSS is a comprehensive project currently underway at Karolinska Institutet in the Center for Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND). The main purpose of RATSS is to recruit monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (not identical) twins with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and typically developing twin controls. The overall study utilizes the classic twin design to examine genetic and environmental factors related to ASD and ADHD. Myers’ study examines the morphological features associated with ASD using a unique cohort of twins from RATSS. During January, Kemp and Myers analyzed the data from clinical assessments of the twins in order to summarize the major findings that will help inform future projects Myers’ will be working on related to dysmorphology.

Barbara Zust, Director of Nursing at Gustavus commented, “This has been an outstanding opportunity for Katie, and Katie has been an outstanding student for this opportunity!  Baccalaureate nursing education is all about educating for a global perspective of health and healing. The definition of ‘patient’ has been extended for baccalaureate prepared nurses to include a population that is global.  The Institute of Medicine strongly encourages interprofessional research teams.  Nurse leaders who participate in interprofessional and international research teams are in high demand.  Lynnea’s role at Karolinska is cutting edge for the future of nursing as a discipline.  Only two months after arriving at Karolinska, Lynnea created this internship opportunity for Kemp and other Gustavus students in the future. Gustavus’ historical, enduring connection with Sweden has provided Gustie students with remarkable opportunities for international internships in Sweden that are made affordable with grants that originate in Sweden.”

Of course it was not all work while Kemp was in Sweden. She had the opportunity to explore many of the major historical and cultural sites in Sweden, including the Vasa Ship museum, the Fotografiska museum, and the Royal Palace. She also experienced local culture, including fika breaks, semla buns, Swedish meatballs, and more.  Kemp was able to conduct informational interviews with biostatisticians and nurses to learn more about research and health care in Sweden. Kemp even met up with some Gustavus alums while in Sweden (Amy Leval and Sophia Iaquinta).

In addition to her travels throughout the world, Kemp is a busy Gustie. She is active in numerous leadership/service roles on campus, and most notably, is the president of the Minnesota Student Nurses’ Association. Kemp’s career goals are to work as a nurse in an acute care setting and pursue an advanced degree in either nursing leadership or global health after graduation from Gustavus.

“Receiving the Wallenberg Award allowed me to have an exceptional experience abroad. Prior to beginning my journey to Stockholm, Sweden I had the expectation that this internship would provide me with experience of working internationally and develop my research skills. Unknowingly, I would learn much more. This internship taught me about the nuances of research in a major national study. It challenged me to work through cultural differences and intercultural communication. I explored career paths that I had never considered before, navigated the challenges of patient care in a different culture, and saw diversity within the workplace. It made me addicted to coffee because of the cultural norm of taking a fika break, and it taught me how to use public transportation, get lost on public transportation, and use it once again. At the end of my four-week stay, I can say Stockholm provided me with a home away from home. I now crave to return to the internationally diverse city that left me with increased confidence, career guidance, and cultural competence.

For more information about the Wallenberg Foundation Intern Award, please visit: https://gustavus.edu/career/planning/Wallenberg.php. Students interested in conducting research in Sweden exploring child development and autism/ADHD during future January Interims should contact Lynnea Myers: lmyers@gustavus.edu


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