Emily - University of Pennsylvania

B. Nursing / Midwifery
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

The exchange at Penn Nursing provided an incredible opportunity to engage in a different learning environment, hospital system and clinical setting. We entered an accelerated graduate program and were enrolled in two courses, Nursing of Young and Middle-Aged Adults as well as Nursing of Older Adults. These courses involved two lectures, simulation laboratory and two clinical shifts at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In comparison to UQ final year nursing placement, there was a higher focus placed on theory. However, we developed a thorough understanding of disease processes, laboratory values and medications. We also learnt how to develop, implement and evaluate nursing care plans.

One of the main challenges was practising in a different clinical environment, which included different assessments, processes and documentation. The clinical educators were very supportive and visited us on shift to ensure we were adapting and feeling confident in this new environment.

Personal experience

Going on exchange was an incredible opportunity and I enjoyed every minute of it. We made some wonderful friendships with other exchange students, who we were able to travel with during and after the semester. This included a weekend trip to Lancaster, day trips to New York and Washington DC as well as spring break in Cancun, Mexico. Following exchange, me and another UQ student travelled for two months around the US and Canada.

A few of us also joined the Penn Outdoors club. It was a lot of fun to engage with a group on campus, make some friends and be involved with weekly meetings, hikes around Philadelphia, a ski trip and some BYO dinners. 

Even though we spent some weekends travelling, it was important to make the most of being in Philadelphia and living on campus, as there were always events happening.


I lived on campus in a one-bedroom apartment with another UQ student. We loved living on campus as we were close to our lectures, the hospital for clinical and all of our friends. Living on campus made it very easy to be involved in campus life. 


Exchange wasn’t cheap, however, was well worth it. Overall, I budgeted $30,000, which included, flights, accommodation, food, insurance and travel (spring break, weekends and two months at the end). Living each week wasn’t expensive, however, the big expenses at the beginning of the trip were accommodation and insurance. 

Professional development and employability

Last day of Clinical Placement!
Last day of Clinical Placement!

Planning and going on exchange enables you to be independent, organised and resilient. During exchange, I was taken outside of my comfort zone engaging in a different learning environment and practising in a different clinical environment. This was positive as upon returning home, I feel more confident in many aspects of my clinical placement.


Two main highlights were living on campus in Philadelphia and engaging in this lifestyle, as well as having the opportunity to travel to some incredible places in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Top tips

Plan ahead and save, to be able to make the most of every opportunity and travel.

Emily - University of Pennsylvania