Azorean Nursing Students visit Charlton Memorial Hospital through the ‘Bridging the Atlantic’ Program

Nursing students from the University of the Azores School of Health visited Charlton Memorial Hospital as part of UMass Dartmouth’s participation in the Bridging the Atlantic (BTA) exchange program.

“We were delighted to have these nursing students visit Charlton Memorial to learn how Southcoast Health is working to address the barriers to healthcare across the region,” said Jacqueline Somerville, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Southcoast Health. “Throughout their visit we had the opportunity to showcase many of our departments and highlight our continued efforts in making sure that all members of our community have access to exceptional care close to home.”

Welcoming the students, Southcoast Health nursing leaders presented the many ways the organization has taken the lead in the efforts to enhance quality of care, patient and nursing safety, and the future of healthcare delivery. They also invited the students to scrub in and observe the Catheterization and Electrophysiology unit, the Family Care Unit and the hospital’s three critical care units.

After the clinical observations, Andrea Laliberte, DNP, RN, Pathway to Excellence Nurse Coordinator at Southcoast Health talked about the importance of a positive work environment, presenting their everyday efforts to create a workplace where nurses feel appreciated and heard. Charlton Memorial recently received designation as a Pathway to Excellence Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exemplifying its supportive culture.

“For some of our students, this is the very first time they’re visiting the United States. The opportunity to experience firsthand what an American healthcare system like Southcoast Health can offer patients is truly an eye-opening experience,” said Helder Pereira, Professor at the University of the Azores School of Health, “They’ve learned today not only about medical care, but about how a healthcare system can impact its community. It’s an amazing opportunity to offer these students and they’re very grateful.”

During the visit, the students also learned about Southcoast Health’s commitment to health equity and their dedication to make sure that each member of the community can access healthcare where, when and how they need it, even outside of the hospital. Stephanie Perry, RN CARN, Addiction Nurse Specialist and Team Lead for the Southcoast Health Community Wellness Program, explained how her work and Southcoast Health’s role in community partnerships make this possible.

“Our UMass nursing students had the opportunity to visit similar units in the Azores hospital and shadow their nurses. They were able to witness the differences and similarities in care that each healthcare system delivers and the important role each nurse plays,” said Maryellen Brisbois, Associate Professor at the UMass Dartmouth College of Nursing and Health Sciences, “Today’s visit has been great and all of the Azorean students have really appreciated the experience. It’s wonderful to witness this exchange every year.”

Bridging the Atlantic is concluding its eighth community nursing exchange between UMass Dartmouth and the Azorean university and it aims to create a sustainable international alliance in community health among American and Azorean nursing faculty and third year nursing students.

The program is made possible by the support of groups such as The DeMello Charitable Foundation, founded by local philanthropist James DeMello.

To learn more about nursing opportunities at Southcoast Heath please visit