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CVPH Hosts Norwegian Nurse Practitioner Student

Aiste Venclovaite Hopes to Transform Nursing Profession in Norway

The University of Vermont Health Network-Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) is impacting the nursing profession on a global scale following a unique visit by an international student.

“In my country, the Primary Care Providers have so many patients, there’s actually a crisis happening there now,” Aiste Venclovaite, a nurse from Norway, said. “After learning what I did at CVPH, I want to lift the Nurse Practitioner position up and say we can do a lot of what doctors do and help reduce that crisis.”

NURSE PRACTITIONER VS. REGISTERED NURSE

In the United States, a Nurse Practitioner (NP) takes on a wide range of duties, such as diagnosing patients and, in many states, prescribing medication. They can be primary care providers in a variety of settings and specialties and even run their own medical offices. Venclovaite explained it is a much different situation in her home country, where a NP essentially sticks to direct patient care duties that Registered Nurses (RN) in the U.S. are responsible for.

Venclovaite, who has been an RN for 12 years, is now in her second year of studying to become a NP. As part of her program, she and her classmates have an opportunity to study abroad. Venclovaite wanted to use that chance to learn about the nursing profession in America, with the hope of improving the way care is provided to her patients back in Norway. That is where her unique connection to Plattsburgh came into play.

PLATTSBURGH CONNECTION

It was 2007 when Venclovaite first came to the North Country as a teenager to attend a summer camp. She stayed with the family of Thomas Recny, who currently serves on the CVPH Board of Directors. Having enjoyed a great experience that summer, Venclovaite had remained in touch with the Recny family over the years, and in August 2022, she expressed her interest to come back to the region to learn more about Nurse Practitioners. That led to a connection with the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer, Carrie Howard-Canning, and Senior Nurse Practitioner in Stroke/Neurology Sarah Baskind.

When Howard-Canning asked Baskind to serve as Venclovaite’s host at the hospital, Baskind jumped at the chance.

“I like teaching, I like working with students, and I saw this as a great opportunity for all of us to learn from each other,” she offered.

CREATING A ROBUST EXPERIENCE

Before Venclovaite arrived, Baskind, who specializes in neurology and stroke care, reached out to her fellow NP colleagues at CVPH to organize a program that would touch many different areas and specialties providing care at the hospital.

“I tried to fill her two weeks with us with a variety of experiences that she could bring back to Norway and say, ‘Here are all of the different things that a Nurse Practitioner can do. We can practice in a lot of different scopes and perform a wide variety of tasks.’ And in doing that, Aiste can help advance the nursing profession in her country,” Baskind said.

Venclovaite’s experience was robust, as she shadowed NPs in Long-Term Care, Cardiology, Neurology, Orthopedics, Palliative Care, Pulmonology, and the Emergency Department. Through that selfless support, she witnessed a number of procedures, learned about wound care and saw first-hand the examination of a variety of patients.

LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER

“I learned so much,” Venclovaite replied. “Everyone was so helpful and so nice taking time to explain things to me. I felt like I was using their precious time, but they always made me feel important. I’m so thankful for that.”

“This has been a great experience for all of us at CVPH, as well,” Baskind stated. “I know I learned a lot from her. It was really interesting hearing about her experiences in Norway. And by acting as teachers, all of us had to use more of our critical thinking skills and really get back to the nuts and bolts of how we do what we do.”

“Every single person Aiste worked with said she was fantastic,” Baskind continued. “She had such positive energy. Aiste was kind of like a celebrity around here, because we haven’t had an international student like her before.”

Because of how well the two weeks went, Baskind expressed interest in creating a program locally for RNs interested in becoming Nurse Practitioners. And she would love to have more opportunities to host international students.

“We have such a great supportive group of Nurse Practitioners. I’m very thankful that they were so willing to be a part of this. Aiste learned so much because all of the NPs were flexible and did all they could to show her a variety of experiences in their area of expertise. This wouldn’t have been possible without their support.”

As for Venclovaite, after spending two weeks at CVPH, it’s safe to say mission accomplished.

“This is like my dream. What Nurse Practitioners do at CVPH, that’s how I want to work,” she admitted.

Now, with the help from her new colleagues in the North Country, she’s hoping to make that dream a reality, not just for herself, but for the nurses in her country who share her passion for patient care.