Global nursing: Sanford Health fosters partnership between Bemidji and Costa Rica

Through a new Global Nurse Mentor Program, Sanford Health connected two nurse educators, Jackie Gibbons from Bemidji and Felipe Sanchez from Costa Rica, to work and learn together.

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Sanford clinical educator and registered nurse Jackie Gibbons shows Hospital Metropolitano clinical educator and registered nurse Felipe Sanchez the contents of a crash cart in an ER trauma room on May 3, 2022, at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Jackie Gibbons and Felipe Sanchez, two clinical educators from countries over 3,000 miles away were able to meet last week in Bemidji to broaden their horizons and learn about global nursing through a unique partnership offered by Sanford Health.

“I am amazed at what nursing is in other parts of the world,” Gibbons said. “That was not something I had ever experienced, and Felipe brought that to me”

Gibbons, a registered nurse from Bemidji, and Sanchez, a registered nurse from Costa Rica, came together as a part of the new Global Nurse Mentor Program offered by Sanford World Clinic, which brought in clinics and hospitals in Costa Rica, Ghana and New Zealand as partners for this initiative.

“The Global Nurse Mentor Program actually came about last year,” said Johna Kern, a nursing and clinical services consultant with the World Clinic who is helping manage the program. “We wanted to give back to the health care system, so we came up with this program.”

The goal is to provide mentorship and shared learning opportunities for every nurse involved, whether based internationally and in the U.S.


“Nursing isn’t just my little spot in Sanford, it’s global,” Gibbons said. “That makes me even more excited about nursing. We can change the world.”

A total of 80 U.S.-based nurses applied to be global mentors, and Gibbons was one of six selected for the final project. She was paired with Sanchez, a nurse educator from Hospital Metropolitano in Costa Rica.

“I received an email that announced this new program,” Gibbons said, “the moment I saw it I thought, I want to do that.”

Sanchez, meanwhile, became involved in the program after presenting his goal to create a nursing education program at his hospital to the World Clinic as a possible partnership opportunity.

“I sent (Kern) the program that I was trying to start because before me we didn’t have any education program,” Sanchez said. “So after presenting it to her, she chose me.”

After connecting back in January, Sanchez and Gibbons immediately began working together to develop a curriculum, share ideas and create a plan.

“Out of all the mentors, Jackie and Felipe were able to hit the ground running,” Kern said. “Truthfully, the synergy between them was apparent from day one.”

A visit to Bemidji

As the partnership continued, plans for Sanchez to visit Bemidji and learn about Sanford Health’s nursing education program directly began to develop, culminating in his arrival in Minnesota on May 1.


Sanchez, who was in Bemidji for a week, met Gibbons in person and spent his time touring Sanford Health and its nursing programs to learn what parts of it would be useful to bring back to Hospital Metropolitano.

“I’ve been trying to absorb as much as I can wherever I go,” Sanchez said. “I want to bring as much as I can to Costa Rica.”

As a part of his tour, Gibbons introduced Sanchez to different nursing and medical teams at Sanford.

“Felipe has had experience in everything,” Gibbons said, “No matter who he's talked to, he’s had something in common with everybody.”

Not only was Sanchez able to learn while in Bemidji, he also provided information and learning opportunities for nurses at Sanford.

“The shared learning piece is such a good thing that we want to lift up,” Kern said. “It’s not just a one-way street.”

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Sanford clinical educator and registered nurse Jackie Gibbons shows Hospital Metropolitano clinical educator and registered nurse Felipe Sanchez the contents of a crash cart in an ER trauma room on May 3, 2022, at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Gibbons and Sanchez were also able to develop plans for what a nursing education program could look like in Costa Rica.

“Our Chief of Nursing (at Hospital Metropolitano) asked me to start with a full diagnosis of the ER and nursing staff,” Sanchez said. “After I analyzed everything, I came up with the most critical areas to focus on.”


These include improving education for shock and trauma, and developing skills checklists for common procedures so that nurses are able to perform them consistently and uniformly.

“We’re going to develop those procedures or checklists, and once they’re developed we want to give the staff a chance to practice those skills,” Gibbons said.

After some of the programs are put in place, it will be Gibbon’s turn to visit Sanchez in Costa Rica, a trip that should take place later this year.

“We want to make sure that what they’re building together is sustainable,” Kern said. “Jackie’s help and Felipe’s knowledge of their nursing system really will create that.”

One of the primary lessons the partnership has provided is that as much as nursing can vary across the world, its primary purpose remains the same.

“We all have the same goal in mind,” Kern said. “Nurses are the core of your health care, it really is no different in any other country.”

With these similar goals and their shared passion to motivate them, Gibbons, Sanchez hope they can continue their partnership even after the year-long program ends.

“That's some of that bond that we’re trying to create between this partnership and the global nurse mentor program,” Kern said. “Jackie and Felipe have created a bond. We’re really excited to see what’s going to happen next.”

Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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