How would you like to fly halfway around the world to Africa, India or South America with faculty and a bunch of nursing students to care for under served populations?

On our trip to Africa, we had the opportunity to take of care of more than 900 patients. The people were amazing. They were appreciative, loving and full of energy. They danced with pure joy, even in church. We also got to feed giraffes out of our hands, watched a herd of elephants drink from their watering hole, and saw many other animals such as ostriches, rhinos and monkeys. If this sounds like an experience you would like to be a part of, you might want to go on a medical mission trip with the College of Nursing!

The College of Nursing has gone on one medical mission trip so far to Kenya in August 2011. Our goal is to have an overseas medical mission trip every two years and on the opposite years go to an under served area in the US. The trips would generally be 2-4 weeks long in the summer.

interviewing-patientsThe process begins in the fall semester. The trip can count as your upper division elective, so some of the cost is included in your tuition. All of the cost is not covered, but you will have time to do some fundraising. Students and faculty apply and write a letter stating why they would like to go. The letters are reviewed, and students are selected. In the spring prior to the trip, the group meets on a regular basis. The group learns about the culture, language, and diseases of the area being visited. The meetings also include team building activities to promote group cohesion and a firm sense of purpose.

As the summer finally arrives, we all meet again to pack the bags. You are allowed one bag, and your second bag will carry supplies for the trip. Everyone arrives at the airport, both excited and a little scared.

When you arrive, it may be a small village like Malikini, where we served in Kenya. It was an adjustment not having electricity or running water, but the people were wonderful and all of our needs were met. We had the privilege of seeing 945 patients in 6 days. We saw patients ranging in age from 5 days old to a couple that was over 100 years old.  The nursing students spent 2 days in each area. The main areas were assessment, prayer and counseling, assisting the physician/nurse practitioner and dispensing medications / giving instructions.

You may be wondering if only nursing students can go. The answer is no, all students can go! There is plenty of work for everyone. The non-medical persons entertained the children, helped with set up, and lovingly transported our patients from one station to the next.

So that is the process. If you want to grow, be blessed and be a blessing consider going. It will be an experience you will not soon forget.

If you want more details about the time we spent in Africa, watch for my next blog. I will describe what the faculty and students did on our trip.