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U.S. nursing student amazed at Korean bedside manners

2010-08-23 17:18

The patients at Daejeon Sun Hospital had their minds taken off the pain by the blond hair and blue eyes of a nursing student from the U.S. last week.

Stephanie Wiegert is a senior at Indiana Wesleyan. As part of her academic studies in nursing, her Transcultural Nursing-Practicum has brought her all the way to the hospital in Daejeon about 150km south of Seoul.

“The goal is really to become aware of different cultural backgrounds and how to competently care for patients from other cultures,” said Wiegert.

Although she accomplished her goal to learn about culturally competent and sensitive care, what she really wanted to take back with her to the U.S. was just how far Korean bedside manners went.

“I love the hospitality and just the friendliness of people in general especially at Sun Hospital,” said Wiegert.

“With the patients they’re (nurse) just always smiling and friendly.”

“I really like the attitude that people have toward patients.”

She also said that the amount of respect that people had for one another, both professionally and culturally, was also a learning experience.

Since the purpose of this practicum was to take back to the U.S. her knowledge and experience, she said that the U.S. had a lot to learn from Korea in terms of hospitality.

“People in the states aren’t necessarily always that friendly and helpful and I would say that the majority of people I met here have been that way, so I would love to take that back,” she said.

Stephanie Wiegert (third from left) poses with the staff at Daejeon Sun Hospital.
Daejeon Sun Hospital

“I feel like sometimes in the states, not all people, but there are a lot of grumpy nurses and doctors out there.”

Kim Young-don, director of foreign relations at Daejeon Sun Hospital, said that treating patients politely is considered first at the hospital.

Although Wiegert learned the most about proper bedside manners, her primary focus is multicultural awareness.

“It’s very important especially in the states right now with such an influx of people from other countries, backgrounds and cultures that as a nurse you should provide culturally competent and sensitive care.”

Without such multicultural awareness, professionals can be confronted with situations that throw them off guard.

“There have been a few instances already in my clinic in the states where you have somebody from another culture and you don’t know the best way to take care of them, or you make them feel uncomfortable.”

Wiegert’s initial expectations of Korea were quickly thwarted when she entered the country.

“What I thought before I came was that it (Korea) might be somewhat underdeveloped in the healthcare area, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are a lot of similarities to the healthcare in the states,” said Wiegert.

Kim said that Wiegert was impressed at the quality of Korean healthcare considering how cheap it is.

Overall, Wiegert said that she not only would come back again, but that she didn’t want to leave.

“I would love to come back and work. I’m sure there are areas with underprivileged children in need,” said Wiegert.

She plans to return to Indiana Wesleyan and recommend Korea to her peers.

“I think it’s an invaluable experience to come to another culture and learn, especially because everybody here is very welcoming.”

Kim said that he was more than willing to accommodate more U.S. students in the future.

By Robert Lee (

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