AROUND THE COLLEGE
>> STUDENTS HELP THOSE IN NEED IN UGANDA In August and December 2011, undergraduate and graduate College of Nursing students traveled to Uganda with the Palmetto Medical Initiative (PMI) to provide health care to those in need. Those students included Accelerated BSN students Lisa Carraher, Sarah Didow, Kristen Elmore, Margaret (Sosnowski) Lawrence, Lindsey Palmer, Anne Powell, Jenelle Quenneville, Thomas Rudisill, Margaret Skeele, and Jessee Wagner. Graduate students included DNP students Ashleigh Benda, Elizabeth Devereaux, Hannah French, J’Vonne Hunter and MSN student Reames Rinehart. Several of the students who participated in the trips share their experiences below.
Lindsey Palmer, Accelerated BSN student Having traveled quite a bit in the past, I have always felt the perspective gained as an outsider abroad taught me how I could better understand my goals and aspirations to be in the health care industry. Visiting other countries that are in need, and placing myself outside of my comfort zone is an integral part of my personal growth and it is why I was inspired to join Palmetto Medical Initiative’s trip to Uganda. As a student nurse, this was one of the best learning experiences, and I would recommend it to any health care professions student. During the trip, I was able to work with three health care professionals—an ophthalmology resident, a psychiatrist, and a nurse practitioner student—on three different days and see their diverse scopes of practice. There were some points of the day when I was actually asking all the questions, diagnosing the problem, and prescribing the drug, as a nursing student. Of course, I was under the supervision of these professionals, but I was really able to challenge my knowledge and apply what I remembered from Ms. Anderson’s pharmacology class or Dr. Conner’s pathophysiology lectures to treat patients, many whom had never received any medical care in their lifetimes. I also was able to brush up on my vital signs skills, and medical history interviewing during triage. This was a major learning experience, because in triage you must be able to identify patients who may need immediate care by taking their vitals and history. It also was a great chance to really get to know the Ugandan people, and see how much they appreciate any bit of care the team provides for them. Most of the people we treated have so little and live in absolute poverty, yet have the biggest smiles on their faces and such 24
Spring | Summer 2012
an appreciation for living. This is what makes the experience so life-changing, and I hope that other nursing students who may be planning to take the trip will get as much out of it both educationally and personally.
Kristen Elmore, Accelerated BSN student Before going on this mission trip, I was told over and over by others, “this will be a life-changing experience,” “you will want to come back,” “this experience will be like no other.” I believed all I was told, but I don’t think I truly grasped before leaving how much of an impact this experience would really make on my life. And as advised…my life has changed since returning. It was so inspiring to see that despite all that the Ugandans experience…extreme poverty, illness, sorrow…they still persevere, and still are so strong in their faith and belief that a higher power is looking out for them and has this awesome plan for their lives. I saw this in everyone I came in contact with from the children to the adults. It truly inspired me. I’m so excited about all of the personal growth I experienced, but also the growth I experienced as a nursing student. The experiences from this medical mission will heavily influence how I practice as a nurse, my interaction with patients, and my thoughts and beliefs on the value of myself as a health care professional. I grew in my faith, developed confirmation in what I’ve been called to do through my nursing career, and am encouraged to live a life full of giving and recognizing the needs of others. I want to use this mission to Uganda as a springboard. I hope to have the opportunity for other international medical missions throughout my nursing career and use those experiences, coupled with my nursing skills, to touch as many lives across the world as humanly possible. What an amazing trip!
MUSC College of Nursing magazine - Spring/Summer 2012