Strong Nurses to Host Dutch Colleagues

September 23, 1998

On September 28-30, seven critical care nurses from the University of Rotterdam, Netherlands will visit colleagues at Strong Memorial Hospital as part of a newly established exchange program between the two organizations. With more than 1,000 beds, the University of Rotterdam is among Europe’s premier research and teaching hospitals.

"The exchange idea grew out of a visit by one of the University of Rotterdam’s faculty members, Jan Westrake, R.N.," said Michael Ackerman, R.N., D.N.S., an associate professor of Clinical Nursing and a nurse practitioner in Strong’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. "The Dutch faculty is particularly interested in nursing research underway at Strong through the University of Rochester School of Nursing." Conversations which began over the internet culminated in a formal exchange program in which nurses will share common problems and exchange ideas across the practice of critical care through group presentations, tours and a one-on-one shadowing experience.

World-Class Nursing Practice and Research

Specifically, the Netherlands team is interested in the work of Judith Baggs, R.N., Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. Baggs has been studying the value of collaboration between critical care nurses and physicians. "In my studies we found that in critical care settings with a high degree of collaboration nurses and physicians reported higher levels of professional satisfaction. We also documented a corresponding positive effect on patient outcomes." Baggs’ studies have been published in numerous professional journals including, Nursing and Health, Image, the American Journal of Critical Care, and soon, in the Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing.

In addition, the Dutch nurses are interested in the results of Ackerman’s studies into the benefits of using saline to loosen patients’ airway secretions before suctioning. "It’s a long-practiced technique that has become a standard ritual for nurses," Ackerman said. "In theory, it should help to clear the patient’s airway, but my research has shown that it simply doesn’t." The results of Ackerman’s studies have appeared in nursing journals such as the American Journal of Critical Care, Heart and Lung, and Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing.

Nursing leaders at Strong are convinced that both facilities stand to benefit from the exchange program. "The European health care system tends to place a greater emphasis on science," Ackerman said. "Nurses in European hospitals have a broader scope of practice. For instance, they are more involved in invasive procedures – such as placing arterial lines, removing chest tubes – which are not standard practices in this country. There’s a lot we can learn from them." A team of eight critical care nurses from Strong is planning a trip to the University of Rotterdam next April.


The Dutch team is scheduled to arrive in Rochester on the evening of Sunday, September 27. The agenda for the three-day visit is as follows:

Mon., September 28 Strong nurses present an overview of U.S. critical care nursing practice. Dutch nurses tour Strong Memorial Hospital, followed by an afternoon presentation, "The Dutch Perspective – Critical Care in Holland."

Tues., September 29 Dutch nurses are paired with Strong colleagues for an all-day shadowing experience. (7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)

Wed., September 30 Nurses share experiences (from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.) before leaving on a tour of the Finger Lakes wine country.

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