Nursing Seniors Go Global for Final Clinicals
A total of 24 nursing students and four faculty divided and conquered three parts of the world to complete their final clinical rotations before graduating this weekend. Ten students traveled to Peru, eight went to Ireland, and six had stops in Costa Rica and Nicaragua – all spreading love and medical care along the way.
The Costa Rica team left on April 14 and traveled with Dr. Nancy Wilk, Associate Professor, for two weeks with the International Service Learning organization. They spent the first week in San Jose, Costa Rica, where the students made home visits to people in a small town where they took a census and asked if anyone in the family was ill. If their answer was yes, the sick family members were invited to come to the free nursing clinic that the team set up for three days. The students conducted nursing assessments for each patient, determined a possible diagnosis and then suggested treatments along with a physician. In addition, they spent an afternoon teaching children about good nutrition and proper dental hygiene and playing.
The second week abroad, the group traveled to Nicaragua and according to Wilk, repeated the same types of experiences in a poor community in the city of Masaya.
“The students found these experiences to be extremely humbling and valuable because they learned so much. They also were able to enjoy learning how to do cultural Costa Rican dances such as the Cha Cha and Salsa, while also experiencing some of the local activities of each country,” said Wilk.
Katie McLaine was with the Costa Rica and Nicaragua group, and said while it was her first global experience, it certainly won’t be her last. She said during the clinics, they saw patients ranging in age from newborn to people in their 80s, and said it was a great opportunity to sharpen her Spanish-speaking skills.
She said some of the hardest patients the group had to deal with were the patients that had psychological issues (severe anxiety, bulimia, and depression) because there was not a lot that the students could do for them other than teach them relaxation techniques or simply let them just talk. She went on to say that the pharmacological resources were so limited, in turn limiting their practice, and that was difficult to accept.
“It just made me realize how important it is to acknowledge not only the physical illnesses, but the mental illnesses as well,” said McLaine. “But this experience definitely solidified the reason that I went into nursing in the first place.”
They also managed to squeeze in a lot of cultural experiences. Since they were there during Holy Week, they were able to watch a procession reenacting Jesus’ crucifixion. The group also took a tour of San Jose, went zip lining, and went to the Baldi Hot Springs. In Nicaragua, they toured two volcanoes, took a tour of Granada and Managua, and went on a boat tour of Lake Nicaragua.
On April 16, ten students —along with Dr. Kylene Abraham, Visiting Assistant Professor, and Dr. Cynthia McCloskey, Director of Graduate Programs in Advanced Practice Nursing and Associate Professor—traveled to Peru to provide health screening and health education to children at four different schools in Rumira, Soccmo, Patachancha, and Ollantaytambo, Peru.
While there, they lived in Ollantaytambo (called Ollanta by locals), a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas near Cuzco in the Southern Sierra region of Peru. Students had the opportunity to stay with Peruvian families and became a part of those families for the two weeks they were there. The students taught in Spanish while using a translator who translated lessons into Quechua, the native language of the rural Peruvians.
Students were also involved in a teaching session for the Promotoras, who are community health workers in the rural Andes Mountains of Peru. During the session, students and faculty performed health assessments on 200 students who ranged in age from 2 to 14 years. They traveled 1 ½ to 2 hours up into the mountains, where students taught the children about dental health, nutrition, basic hygiene and hand washing, first aid, and reproductive health. This experience was the culmination of a semester long global health option which is part of their senior preceptorship course.
While not tending to patients or teaching, they were able to hike Machu Picchu, the overlooking mountain of Huayna Picchu; the Incan Sun Gate, along with the salt mines near Maras/Urubamba; the Incan agricultural lab of Moray; and the city of Cusco.