Message from the Dean
Azusa Pacific University owes its focus on serving to its founders who began this institution as the Training School for Christians Workers in 1899. Since the APU School of Nursing opened in 1975, we have dedicated ourselves to integrating Christian service with rigorous scholarship to produce nursing graduates who can impact the world both medically and spiritually.
Living and working in other countries allow our nursing students to understand the host country’s health care system, offer the benefit of skills learned in the United States, and gain a dimension of cultural competence and connection that will serve both the student and his or her future patients.
In addition to our unique South Africa Semester that immerses students in culture and context, we are developing additional opportunities in other countries. If you have a passion for serving and learning, for connecting with the underserved and marginalized, consider an exciting semester in South Africa taught by Azusa Pacific faculty.
Aja Tulleners Lesh, PhD, RN, NP
Dean, School of Nursing
Find out more about the South Africa: Nursing Track.
“Studying and serving in South Africa changed me, made me stronger, and helped put my priorities in order. With tremendous support from the professors and the sisters at the clinic, we worked through crises and put our skills into action, making assessments within a cross-cultural dimension. I can’t think of a better scenario to prepare nurses for work in the United States.
Most significantly, the experience impacted my spiritual growth. By stepping outside my comfort zone, I learned how to interact with people, respond to foreign situations, and build relationships in the context of different cultures. I clearly saw God’s love for His people and the passion and hope He has for the world.”
– Yvette Irizarry ’09
“The International Program of APU School of Nursing offers senior nursing students a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with people of a different culture and history and who have different health challenges than their own. The students spend time working in health facilities where they learn of diseases and health problems they do not often see in their home states. In South Africa, this refers particularly to communicable diseases such as HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis.
They learn how the government health system works and the role of nurses within the system. The students meet patients not only in the clinic situation, but also in their homes when they become part of a non-government, home-based care outreach program taking food and other necessities to the ill as well as the Gospel message of hope to the patients and their families. They come face to face with the daily challenges of families infected with and affected by the HIV pandemic.
In the classroom, students reflect on these experiences and discuss the issues with adjunct faculty, staff, and other experts in the field. The experience is life changing for the students, and they leave with a broader and deeper understanding of the developing world and the challenges of the health system in providing holistic care in this environment and the diversity of God’s kingdom. In turn, the students leave their patients and fellow health workers with memories of love and compassion. ”
– Wendy Hall, MBChB, M(Prax)Med, faculty member
“The nursing program at APU was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only did I learn from incredibly talented nurses at nationally ranked hospitals like Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, USC University Hospital, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, but I also participated in the first nursing study abroad semester in South Africa.
This semester took me out of my comfort zone and opened up my eyes to health care outside of the U.S. I stepped outside of what I had been taught, thought critically, and provided the best care I possibly could with limited resources. Regardless of their HIV status, culture, or socioeconomic status, I approached each patient with the same goal in mind: to be the healing hands and feet of Christ and demonstrate His love through my nursing care. This experience alone made all four years of nursing school worth it to me.
The most meaningful aspect of APU’s School of Nursing was the close relationships I formed with my fellow classmates, professors, and clinical instructors. Without their consistent support and faith in me, there is no way I would have been able to complete this rigorous program. I will never forget the things I learned at APU and cannot wait to apply them in my future career as a nurse at CHLA!”
– Nicole Hetschel ’09