Luther nursing major studies health care abroad

Luther College nursing major Duong Truong, class of 2024, spent his summer researching a Buddhist hospital in Taiwan and helping set up nursing school scholarships for Catholic nuns in Vietnam.

As a nursing major at Luther, Truong has seen many examples of many Christian-affliated hospitals in the U.S. that integrate belief into their care and mission, but he noticed a gap in research on Buddhist hospitals. He wanted to understand how Buddhist principles would influence medicine and care within Buddhist hospitals. “I wanted to be a pioneer in studying this,” he said.

His project, “The Identity of Mahāyāna Buddhist Hospitals in The Changing Healthcare Landscape,” took him to Taiwan, to observe the Buddhist Tzu Chi Hospital. He was told that he was the first member of a Western undergraduate institution to study there.

Gereon Kopf, Luther College professor of religion, advised Truong on his research and said that Truong “mastered extremely difficult material and conducted groundbreaking, interdisciplinary research that will provide insights and inspiration on how to make hospital care more holistic and more meaningful to both patients and health care providers.”

Truong received funding for this project through the Lynn Arthur and Mary Frost Steen Fellowship, a program at Luther that gives up to two students each year $5,000 to complete research projects outside of Luther and Decorah.

“The Steen family wanted to provide funds for motivated Luther students to go out into the world to conduct research, so we developed a fellowship specific to funding these student research projects during the summer,” said Molly Wilker, director of undergraduate research and an associate professor of chemistry at Luther. “Duong’s summer research project proposal was a great fit for the Steen Fellowship.”

After graduating, Truong plans to use the research skills he developed at Luther and pursue a doctorate in nursing.

In addition to studying Buddhist hospitals through the Steen Fellowship, Truong and fellow Luther student Daniel Pfeffer-Kleemann also received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant this summer to help set up scholarships for Catholic nuns in Vietnam. Jon Lund, Luther’s director of international admissions, is Luther’s Projects for Peace liaison and on-campus coordinator. He said that Truong “is a tangible and moving example of the way in which motivated students can make a sustainable, concrete difference.”

Davis Projects for Peace was established by Kathryn W. Davis on her 100th birthday to fund selected students with $10,000 to create and build peace anywhere in the world. The program brings together educational institutions and students to develop community-based approaches to global challenges, such as  meeting health care needs.

Since the grant’s creation in 2007, 36 Luther students have received this prestigious grant to spread sustainable peace around the world. Luther students have established 22 projects in 23 different countries.

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