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UVU Students Help Boost Health Education in Samoa Through Study Abroad

12 November 2010 No Comment

November 12, 2010
For Immediate Release

For more information: Grant Skabelund (801) 863-8709; Troy Nelson (801) 863-8196
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Marianna Henry (801) 863-5306

The islands of Samoa have some of the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease in the world. Often, patients as young as 15 must have heart surgery. The only way to prevent rheumatic heart disease from developing is to screen young patients and educate them and their parents on what to do should the symptoms arise. A group of UVU students will do just that in Samoa next summer.

Led by a team of Lori Allen, who holds a doctorate in health promotion and education, her husband Dr. Marv Allen, and UVU Associate Professor of Nursing Troy Nelson, UVU students will teach elementary children in local schools about strep throat and rheumatic fever, while interacting with healthcare workers and experiencing clinical observations in local hospitals and clinics.

“The Samoa Study Abroad program is a great opportunity for our students to actually make a difference in people’s lives, while earning UVU credit,” said Troy Nelson, Samoa Program Director. “Students will get hands-on clinical experience while educating parents and children about an easily diagnosable, easily curable disease.”

The Allens’ effort began a few years ago, when Marv, a cardiologist in Provo, was called down to Samoa to do free echocardiogram screenings. His wife, Lori Allen, completed her dissertation thesis on education as an inhibitor for rheumatic heart disease. In order to develop the best teaching program possible, Lori approached Nelson as a resource. Since then, the team has gone to Samoa for about two weeks each session. During the most recent session, Nelson realized it would be a great opportunity for UVU students to get hands-on experience.

“We want to make the screenings and the education a long-term plan in Samoa,” said Nelson. “It’s important to us to raise awareness about rheumatic heart disease; it will literally save lives. What a great cause for UVU students to engage in and support.”

UVU Study Abroad is now accepting applications for the Samoa: Nursing program. Students who apply by the Dec.17 early application deadline reap a $300 discount. For more information, visit or contact the International Center (WB 147) at 801-863-8709 or intlstudyprograms@uvu.edu. To access additional Samoa materials, check out www.uvu.edu/international/isp.

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