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Bern University in Bern Switzerland

Learning From the Best

Nurse Practitioner Student from Switzerland Visits CU Nursing

Written by Molly Smerika on June 4, 2024

The University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus invented the nurse practitioner role. In aligning with the college’s initiative to expand its global healthcare reach and education, it makes sense the college wants to expand its knowledge to other parts of the world.

Photo of student Maya Monteverde

Maya Monteverde

That’s where Maya Monteverde comes in.

She is a student at Bern University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland, earning her master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. CU Nursing is collaborating with the Swiss university to educate students with advanced practice nursing skills to meet a shortage of healthcare workers.

“I heard about nurse practitioners in the US, and I always thought it was an interesting profession, even though I wasn’t familiar with it, but I wanted to combine patient education with a medical background to provide better care for patients,” Monteverde says. “So I think that was my push to become a nurse practitioner.”

Monteverde has worked as a nurse since the 90s, mostly working in palliative care. She lives in Bern and worked in other parts of Switzerland as a nurse.

“When I became a nurse, at the time in Switzerland you couldn’t get a bachelor's degree or a master’s degree,” she says. “After working in palliative care and hearing about this program in Bern, I really wanted to learn a deeper insight into nursing.”

Monteverde says having an NP program like this is vital in Switzerland because the population is getting older and many patients have chronic diseases or need complex care. Switzerland is also seeing a healthcare worker shortage, particularly in rural areas.

Those are similar reasons why Dr. Loretta Ford and Dr. Henry Silver created the NP role at CU Nursing in the 1960s. Nurse practitioners practice autonomously or work as clinicians at hospitals, long-term care facilities, and healthcare agencies.

“I think nurse practitioners can fill this gap between doctors and nurses because there is a rising number of complex patients, not only in palliative care but all over medicine,” she says. “So it’s important to have nurses who are more knowledgeable to treat these patients with very specific needs.”

Coming to the Anschutz Campus

Monteverde was invited to visit CU Nursing for two weeks in April. She shadowed nurse practitioners at Sheridan Health Services, visited a midwifery outpatient clinic and Belleview Point Clinic, and attended a complex care simulation.

“I learned a lot from the nurse practitioners I visited. I was impressed how they applied patient education and empowerment and how they managed to translate nursing theory into nursing practice,” she says. “It’s also important to see the complex care simulation, which is something we have in Switzerland but not on the same level compared to CU Nursing.”

“This is such a unique experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to come to CU Nursing, and I’m so thankful to the people who made it possible.”

Monteverde will give a presentation on her trip to other NP students at Bern University in June.

“I really hope I can bring some of these teachings back to Switzerland and apply them to my work,” she says. “I learned what an NP’s role is in a healthcare system, what they do for patient education, and could see the important aspects of the role and how they can make a difference in patients’ dealing with their illnesses.”

Monteverde will graduate in July as one of the first nurse practitioners focused on palliative care. She already has a job lined up once she earns her degree: working as an APRN in palliative care in a small, rural hospital in an area about half an hour outside of Bern. She will provide palliative care to patients and develop inpatient services with one of the doctors on staff.

“It’s a huge responsibility because I want to do a good job. If I, along with other nurse practitioners do a good job, then the program will be successful,” she says. “This is why I wanted to come to Colorado where nurse practitioners are such an important part of the healthcare industry,” she says. “What can I learn from CU Nursing? I want to take that knowledge and bring it back to Switzerland.”

Topics: Education, Students