School of Nursing Offers Unprecedented Integration of Peace Corps and Graduate Studies

The U-M School of Nursing has become the first school of nursing to partner with the Peace Corps' Master's International program.

Dr. Lori in LiberiaIn an increasingly international career market, the U-M School of Nursing is meeting the demand for globally-oriented healthcare professionals. Master’s students in the School of Nursing who have chosen to add the new International Health Concentration (IHC) to their degree may now fulfill the concentration’s hands-on training requirement through Peace Corps service work. Starting in September 2012, U-M School of Nursing students in any Master’s program track pursuing the IHC will be eligible to combine their study with the Peace Corps’ Master’s International (MI) program. Students who choose this path will graduate in four years with an MS degree and significant professional and leadership experience provided by a 27-month term of service in the Peace Corps.

“The U-M School of Nursing is the first and only school of nursing to offer this special opportunity,” said Dean Kathleen Potempa. “In doing so, we hope to both attract students to our MS program and enrich the pool of applicants by recruiting large numbers of service-oriented and globally savvy candidates.”
The IHC is designed to educate students about international health issues and provide an opportunity for practical hands-on experience while promoting multidisciplinary prevention over treatment and community-based service over institutional care.“The new IHC and this partnership with the Peace Corps reflect the school's goal of preparing our students to make a difference through service and leadership,” said Dr. Leslie Dorfman Davis, Director of Global Outreach for the School of Nursing.

As Peace Corps Health Extension Volunteers, students will work with communities to encourage behaviors that promote health, prevent illness, treat disease, and facilitate rehabilitation. Students may train regional health workers in preventative care or prepare village health workers and community residents to provide for their own health needs. Project areas include maternal/child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention education, water/sanitation, and nurse training.
Peace Corps logo“I think everyone planning for a career in international work should have the kind of grass-roots experience that the Peace Corps provides,” said Dr. Violet Barkauskas, Associate Professor Emeritus at the School of Nursing. Dr. Barkauskas served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1965 to 1967 in Malaysian Borneo.
The School of Nursing is the most recent school within the University of Michigan to adopt the MI program. In 2010, U-M celebrated 50 years of history with the Peace Corps by announcing a new partnership pairing graduate studies in the Schools of Social Work, Education, and Natural Resources with Peace Corps volunteer service. Broadly speaking, this opportunity allows students to receive academic credit for their volunteer service toward graduate degrees.
On October 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy delivered an unprepared campaign speech to more than 5,000 U-M students who had gathered on the steps of the Michigan Union, challenging them to promote peace by serving in developing countries around the world. As a result of this speech and the enthusiastic response of U-M students, the Peace Corps was established the following March. Since then, more than 2,330 U-M alumni have served in the Peace Corps, ranking the school 8th among large universities in producing Peace Corps volunteers.
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Peace Corps Service Work through the IHC: Program Structure
Master’s students in the IHC interested in the Peace Corps’ MI program may choose between two possible sequences for pursuing their degree: the Early Service Abroad Option and the Degree Completion Option. Because the Peace Corps application and screening process can take between six and twelve months, students electing the Early Service Abroad Option apply for admission to the Peace Corps before matriculating at the School of Nursing. If accepted, they would complete the first year of the MS program before beginning their 27-month term of service. Upon their return, students would finish the requirements for their Master’s degree. Alternatively, students may elect the Degree Completion Option if they prefer to complete all Master’s degree requirements before going abroad with the Peace Corps. Following their abroad experience, students would return for one final semester.
If you are interested in the IHC, please contact a graduate recruiter for more information.