RMU’s Nursing program returns from 101 trips to Nicaragua


Photo credit: Dr. Carl Ross

Malyk Johnson, Assistant News Manager

Robert Morris University‘s School of Nursing and Health Science recently returned from Nicaragua. Dr. Carl Ross is a professor at the school and faculty adviser during the trips. Dr. Ross has been on 101 trips to the nation.

Ross originally went to Nicaragua when he worked at Duquesne University. When he was hired at RMU during the start of the nursing program, he continued to take students on the trip.

“Many times the Nicaraguans will say ‘You’ve taught us so much. What did we give you in turn?'” said Dr. Ross. “Well they give us in return the art of nursing but they also give us the morals and values of what life is all about.”

Photo credit: Carl Ross

The trip takes place over the course of 10 days. Upon arrival, the students get a lecture at Robert Morris’s partner school Universidad Politecnica de NicaraguaFrom there, the students have the weekend to go site seeing. On Mondays, the students work at Dr. Ross’s clinic.

The first trip Dr. Ross went on from Robert Morris was in 2006. On that original trip, Dr. Ross went on only five students came along. Some of the students had never been out of the country before.

“It was very eeye-opening for them,” said Dr. Ross. “They realized that unfortunately, they had realized that people lived in poverty but didn’t realize the severity of the poverty”

From the trip, Dr. Ross hopes that students learn to be less materialistic.

“These people have minimum materialistic things, but they’re so much happier than what we are,” said Dr. Ross. “We have so much and we want more.”

Dr. Ross has been going to Nicaragua for 23 years. Although he would like to continue going on the trip He does want to see younger faculty carry on the program. After retirement, Dr. Ross would like to continue to go on the trip except as a participant.

Photo Credit: Dr. Carl Ross

“Younger faculty are interested in international programs,” said Dr. Ross. “Nicaragua is very different because it is a third world, and the responsibility of having students in a third world country is challenging to faculty who haven’t done this before.”

William Wentling is a professor at the University and has gone on the last three trips with Dr. Ross. Wentling went on the first trip expecting it to be the only trip he went on and he wouldn’t have any interest in going back. After that first trip, he fell in love with the program.

“Once I went down and experienced it I was like ‘yes’,” said Wentling. “You do not come back from the trip without a change on your overall outlook at life.”

The feedback that students gave him is what originally made him want to give the trip a try.

“Part of it was the excitement that they shared,” said Wentling. “They were saying that they got more out of the experience than the families we helped did.”

While he is not a nurse practitioner, Wentling coordinates the movement of students in Ross’s clinic while Ross works.

“I’m basically first assist for Doctor Ross.” said Wentling. “In the mornings when we see the families, I’m kind of tagging along and taking care of all the equipment and everything. In the afternoons when we have our clinical part of trips, I basically run the clinic and make sure that everything is running the way it is supposed to.”

Traditionally only nursing students attend the trip to Nicaragua. But Dr. Wentling would like to see the trip expand and include students from all of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences programs and their individual levels of expertise.

“So my first trip everyone new that I did imaging, nuclear medicine or x-ray or MRI, CT and they made it a point to take me to the hospital and show me the departments and how they work there.”

For more information on international trips abroad click Here. For information about the nursing program at Robert Morris University click Here.