Nursing students at Andrews University in the senior year are taking the Intercultural Mission Service in Nursing class and one of the class requirements is that the students participate in a class tour. The class prepares students to apply the principles of the Nursing Department conceptual framework, Restoration to the Image of God, while providing Christian nursing care and service in a worldview context.
The class prepares the students to communicate across cultural boundaries, value personal spiritual growth, participate in health related public presentations, assess the local needs related to health problems and give the adequate nursing care as well as educating the population about specific local health concerns; and how to improve health status through lifestyle choices and changes.
In the Fall 2015 the students with faculty members went to Santa Barbara in Honduras, a Spanish speaking country located in Central America. The students prepared during the semester reading and analyzing material about local cultural characteristics, local population characteristics, specific local health problems, local needs related to healthy lifestyle and disease prevention.
Group of nursing students on the way to the first health clinic
On December 11, the group of fourteen students and two faculty members arrived at Santa Barbara, Honduras with high expectation to be able to serve to the local needs related to the healthcare arena. Sunday December 13, guided by the Director of REACH International, the students did the first health clinic at a small town in the mountains called Los Anises. A large number of people were waiting at a small school, standing in the shadow of the many beautiful trees in the area. The students started immediately to work screening blood pressure, blood glucose and writing a short health history; with this information the persons were able to see a local physician that was part of the group that went to the mountain to offer a much needed free medical attention. During the time the people were waiting the students did presentations with topics regarding healthy lifestyle, how to take care of problems such as diabetes and hypertension, two common health problems among the population in Honduras. Other health topics presented included nutrition, drinking water, and appropriate rest. The students received undivided attention, and were able to answer questions and engage in conversations that had the objective to leave important information about how to have to take care of the body and have a healthier lifestyle to a population who has remote or no access to healthcare.
Nursing students measuring blood sugar and taking blood pressure
Nursing students teaching the community about healthy life styles, diabetes, and blood pressure
One of the highlight of the Mission tour was the opportunity to offer the help to the local hospital and at the same time have hands-on experience to give high quality nursing care. For five days the students were able to work at different units at the hospital. The personnel of the hospital gave the students a warm welcome, being introduced to the different units by the Director of Nursing; and after that and throughout the time the students were at the hospital, nurses, physicians and other healthcare personnel offered them multiple opportunities to work in the local nursing environment, teaching the students at every possible occasion.
The different units that the students had the opportunity to participate in the experience were Emergency Department, Labor and Delivery, Medical Surgical Unit, Neonatology, and the Immunization Department; each of the places being an extraordinary service and learning experience. After the end of the day at work, at 3:30 pm when the students were in the car going back to the place where they were located, an incredible amount of joyful moments were shared about the enriching experience that ranged from learning new concepts, helping with delivering a baby, holding young and lonely mothers hands during the delivery of their first baby, making the difference in the patient’s life rendering compassionate care in the Medical Surgical unit, and starting Intravenous canalizations in the Emergency Department, amongst many other experiences.
First day at the hospital
Nursing student at the Neonatology Unit
Nursing Student in the Immunization Department
Nursing Students at the Labor and Delivery Unit
The nursing group went to Honduras together with students and a professor from the Medical Laboratory Sciences Department, being both part of the School of Health Professions at Andrews University. The Nursing and the Medical Laboratory Sciences students and faculty members worked together as a team in several occasions. One afternoon both groups went to a place of a person who offered her house to be used to see local people. The person had spread the word that a group of health professionals and students would be there to help with screening; at arrival a large group of persons were waiting. The students worked together drawing blood, screening blood pressure and blood glucose, and attending needs from the people who came. For several hours a compassionate one-to-one care was given, offering the screening and health related topic teaching according to the specific needs of each person that came to the health clinic.
MLS student draving blood and nursing student translating to spanish and giving tender love care.
Nursing student chequing the ear of one of the kids present at the health clinic
MLS professor Daniel Gonzalez and nursing instructor Mrs. Weithers checking a kid who needed professional attention.
MLS professor Daniel Gonzalez drawing blood
On the way to a second town in the mountains, San Francisco, some of the nursing students and faculty member stop along the road side to offer blood pressure screening and blood glucose testing to a group of workers who were cleaning the road side with rudimentary tools. The workers gladly accepted the offer and in an improvised health clinic in the vans that transported the group the screening began, and the workers received their information about the results of the screening, and many questions were answered about their concerns about health and lifestyle issues.
Nursing students doing a health clinical at the road side
Nursing students screening blood pressure to local workers
The nursing students had the opportunity to participate with students from several disciplines from Andrews University joining the team of volunteers, conducting a day camp for children’s at the REACH International orphanage and surrounding communities in Santa Barbara. The activities that the nursing students presented to the children included classes about hygiene, healthy nutrition, the importance of water, and how the human body works.
Nursing students showing the children how to distill water
Nursing students teaching about nutrition
In an evening of show and tell the children who participated at the day camp
had the opportunity to proudly show the parents and the community what they learned about the human body.
Finally the sad day came when the good byes had to be said, when many tears were shed, invaluable learning opportunities helped us to understand the importance to integrate the Restoration to the Image of God in helping others. To God is the glory.