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Monmouth Students Travel to Vietnam for Interprofessional Education

A group of students and faculty recently participated in an interprofessional education (IPE) trip to Da Nang, Vietnam, as part of an initiative that highlights Monmouth University’s commitment to global engagement and interprofessional collaboration. The student team consisted of Master of Social Work (MSW) student Ally Vernaglia, and Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) students Jacqueline Daniel and Aiden Darcy. John Patro Jr., OTD, chair of the occupational therapy department and faculty advisor, said the IPE experience marks a milestone for Monmouth University as it prepares to extend its reach into Asia with the first-ever OTD capstone experience in Vietnam.

The IPE trip to Da Nang offered an opportunity for the students to collaborate, learn, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Vernaglia, who participated in the IPE as part of her internship in clinical social work, said that her involvement allowed her to gain invaluable experience in an international context, broadening her perspective on social work practices and enhancing her cultural competency.

OTD students Daniel and Darcy embarked on the IPE trip to lay the groundwork for their doctoral capstone projects. The experience provided them with insights into the health care landscape and occupational therapy practices in Vietnam. Their interactions with local health care professionals and communities in Da Nang allowed them to gather information and make preparations for their upcoming 14-week capstone experience.

“This opportunity to complete our capstone in Vietnam is truly groundbreaking. It will allow us to work closely with Vietnamese communities, understand their unique needs, and contribute positively to their health care system. We are grateful to Monmouth University for making this possible,” Daniel said.

The 14-week capstone experience, which the OTD students will return to Da Nang to complete in January, marks the first time that Monmouth’s occupational therapy doctoral students will undertake their capstone experience in Vietnam. According to Patro, with the trip, Monmouth University is taking a step forward in expanding its academic programs and global outreach. “Monmouth University is proud to support our students in this remarkable journey. We believe that this interprofessional experience in Da Nang will enrich the education of our students and foster meaningful cross-cultural exchanges and collaborations. It aligns perfectly with our commitment to global engagement and community-focused learning,” Patro said.

In an effort to enhance mental health services and support in Vietnam, Jamie Nappi, specialist professor in the School of Social Work, conducted training sessions at the Da Nang Psychiatric Hospital. The collaboration aimed to equip hospital staff with crucial skills and knowledge to provide high-quality care for patients in need of mental health support.

According to Patro, Nappi’s expertise and dedication to the field of social work have earned her a reputation as a leading figure in mental health education and clinical practice. “Her involvement in this initiative further solidifies Monmouth’s commitment to global engagement and fostering international partnerships that bring meaningful change,” he said.

The training sessions, which took place over the course of several days, encompassed a range of topics relevant to psychiatric care. Hospital staff received comprehensive instruction on evidence-based practices, interventions, and the latest advancements in the field of mental health care. Additionally, the training emphasized the importance of empathy, cultural sensitivity, and interdisciplinary collaboration in providing holistic support to patients.

Patro said that Monmouth University’s investment in the IPE trip and the subsequent OTD capstone experience in Vietnam underscores the institution’s dedication to preparing its students for a diverse and interconnected world. “The University aims to equip students with the skills and perspectives needed to make a positive impact on local and global communities, and initiatives like this serve as a testament to Monmouth’s commitment to academic excellence and global citizenship,” he said.