Nursing students venture abroad
Macaila DeMario | Thursday, February 12, 2015
Saint Mary’s students ventured to Kyarosozi, Uganda, this past summer to learn more about the culture themselves and how they could apply both to world of nursing. Wednesday evening, nursing students and staff from Saint Mary’s, Goshen and Bethel colleges presented their discoveries and how they could impact others’ lives through medicinal practices.
Senior and nursing major Kelly Wilson gave an introduction to the trip.
“We stayed with the Sisters of the Holy Cross. It was three nursing majors and three education majors. Every day, us three [nursing majors] would spend the day in the Holy Cross clinic,” Wilson said.
The nursing students said they felt helpful all around the clinic and learned a vast variety of new skills they can apply to their future nursing endeavors.
“As nurses, we are taught to care for our patient and advocate for our patient we help them with simple tasks such as eating, dressing, going to the bathroom, simple tasks such as showering, brushing their teeth,” Wilson said.
Janice Heffernan, another senior and nursing major who ventured to Uganda, described her experience learning nursing technicalities.
“When I was at the clinic, I spent most of my time in the laboratory. Before coming to Kyarosozi, I had basic knowledge of laboratory skills and tests, but I had never really practiced them in a clinical setting,” Heffernan said. “Thankfully, one of the laboratory technicians was a wonderful teacher. She was patient, kind and explained every test to me.
“By the second week, I was comfortable performing rapid HIV and malaria tests on my own, which are the two most common tests we performed at the clinic,” she said. “During my stay in Uganda, I was always trying and learning new things, and the clinic was no exception. I was always amazed with how much they could do with such limited resources.”
While medical practices were an important and critical aspect of the trip, the students also held value in becoming mentors and friends with the people of Uganda.
Senior and nursing major Julia Brehl talked about how the students wanted to make a positive impact in the everyday lives and community of the people there.
“We gave them suggestions [in regards to] how they could use their resources to the best of their ability and improve the overall health of their students,” Brehl said. “We talked about the way the food is prepared, where it’s prepared in relation to the classrooms, how close the drinking water was to the school [and] how they disposed of garbage.”
Brehl also shared details about the students’ day-trips to villages to give vaccinations far from the clinics.
“The closest thing we have to a birth certificate is that vaccination card,” Brehl said. “It says what they had when they were born and what vaccinations they have already received.”
Students from Goshen College also learned more about themselves and the world through their experiences and interactions with the medical staff and locals of the Nepal’s countryside.
Ashika Thanju, a nursing student at Goshen College, introduced the trip to Nepal.
“This past May, we were able to go to Nepal which is my home country, and we were there for three weeks,” Thanju said.
Olivia Ressler, another Goshen College student who participated in the trip, describes how the group overcame the language.
“During our time in Nepal, we were each paired up with two or three nursing students from there and we actually called them ‘diddi,’ which means older sister,” Ressler said.
“Communication was definitely one of the most challenging things I experienced on this trip … I was relying a lot more on gestures and context clues and relying heavily on just asking the students,” she said.
Thanju said she was excited to be able to reconnect with her family and her culture throughout the duration of the trip.
“Although I am from Nepal, going back after three years was also a culture shock for me, but I’m really glad we [the nursing students] got to have that experience together,” Thanju said.
“I really hope in the future that I’ll have more of that compassion when I’m caring for and communicating with these people and just realizing that being there, spending that time, even though it’s really hard, it’s challenging, it’s embarrassing sometimes, it’s worth bringing that smile to their face and taking that extra minute to just be there for them,” Ressler said.