Belize Trip Caps Nursing Education for Katy Steffes '24

Thursday, June 20, 2024

When aspiring nurse Katy Steffes was considering colleges, she didn’t have to look past her immediate family for inspiration.

“My brother Cal went to Viterbo and is a nurse with Mayo Clinic Health System,” said Steffes, a native of La Crescent, Minn. “He was really challenged academically and had to work hard. I also wanted a program that was going to push me and prepare me to be the best nurse possible.”

Katy Steffes and Brianna Luebke in Belize
Katy Steffes, left, and Brianna Luebke were among 10 Viterbo University nursing students who capped their education by doing clinicals in the Central American country of Belize.

Steffes also appreciated the many opportunities Viterbo offered, its state-of-the-art nursing facilities, a campus that felt like home, and especially, the caring faculty members.

“You don’t always get that at a larger school,” she said.

Steffes graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and passed her state licensing board examination earlier this month. She has accepted a general medical RN position with Gundersen Health System, which she will begin in July.

One of the highlights of Steffes’ time at Viterbo came this past April, as she joined 10 other nursing students and two faculty members on a two-and-a-half-week study abroad trip to Belize. The course, which fulfilled the participants’ senior clinical capstone experience requirement, began with a briefing with the country’s minister of health followed by hands-on work assignments in various health care settings.

The experience gave her new insights into diverse patient care, innovation and resourcefulness, cultural awareness, and other aspects that will serve her very well during her nursing career.

The students stayed with host families, and one of Steffes’ favorite memories was helping to prepare a traditional dinner, complete with homemade tortillas.

“It was an awesome experience,” Steffes said of studying in Belize. “I would recommend it to anyone. I learned a lot—it was a wonderful, unforgettable trip.”

Steffes is looking forward to beginning her nursing position. Eventually, she would like a post in an emergency room.

“My long-term goal is to return to school and become a nurse practitioner,” she said.