This year, nursing students at Lourdes University are putting aside the traditional classroom environment for real-world learning overseas through four unique international opportunities offered in Africa (Lesotho), Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Peru.

Lesotho transcultural nursing education trip: January 1 - 12

A unique two-part course titled Nursing 450: Transcultural Experiences in Health Care, gave Lourdes students the chance to learn about the history, culture, health, and health care of Lesotho, Africa. Bounded on all sides by South Africa, Lesotho is a sovereign kingdom, ranking 3rd in the world for HIV/AIDS population.

Jennica Austin, Rosemary Ball, Ana Bitz, Brandi Breseman, Colleen Foley, Joseph Hauser, Breanna Mellon, Brenda Roberts, Bethany Ruff, and Kim Sutphin, led by Assistant Professor Kathleen Jenks and Professor Lynne Zajac, PhD spent the first portion of the course (held fall semester 2013) in the classroom and spent the second portion learning first-hand in Lesotho.

 Lourdes nursing group in Lesotho

While in Africa, the group toured the Queen Mamo’hato Hospital and Kick4Life HIV Prevention & Education Center, traveled with Doctors Without Borders to rural health clinics, visited with student nurses and faculty from the National University of Lesotho, and interacted with children at the Motsekua orphanage and the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Clinic.    

“The trip also gave Lourdes an opportunity to establish professional relationships vital to future international academic partnerships for student and faculty exchange, and provided students with a rare immersive opportunity to gain in-depth understanding of how environmental, social, educational, political, and financial factors influence health from a global perspective,” offers Dr. Zajac. 

Haiti mission trip: January 11 – 19

For the 2010 Spring Break, Lourdes Associate Professor Martha Gallagher, PhD, established a health care mission to Pestel, Haiti for the Nursing 450 course. Sadly, that year a 7.0Mw earthquake devastated the island, putting the mission on hold. Never giving up on her plans, Dr. Gallagher partnered with a local group of health care providers to finally fulfill the Haiti mission trip this year.

Joining her were Lourdes Associate Nursing Professor Liz Nims, PhD and graduate nursing student Tracy Ewing as well as representatives from Mt. Carmel Hospital Family Medicine Residency (Columbus, Ohio); the Sisters of St. Francis Sylvania; and The University of Toledo Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Together, the team worked in tandem with Haitian clinic personnel and village health promoters in providing dental care, physical examinations, and treatment of both episodic and chronic diseases to local residents. In addition to examining and collaborating with team doctors to treat patients, the Lourdes nurses assisted physician staff by starting IVs, administering medications, giving breathing treatments, administering oral rehydration salts to dehydrated adults and infants, helping with minor surgical procedures, and assisting the dentist when needed.

The nursing faculty also designed patient education posters for the Sisters’ medical clinic and for the village health promoters and taught various classes based on common health issues in the region. 

Dominican Republic mission trip: February 2014

This month, Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Anesthesia Program students Tiffany Miller and Pam Perkins are spending a week in the Dominican Republic as part of the Midwest Medical Missions, Inc. team, led by Arvind Mistry, MD, an Anesthesiologist with the Toledo Clinic. There, the group will assist medical staff, and provide anesthesia for procedures such as hernias, cholecystectomies, hysterectomies, lipomas, and other procedures.

Peru mission trip – August 11 to 23

Continuing her mission work, this summer Dr. Gallagher will offer another mission to Lourdes nursing students, this time in Peru. The group will spend August 11 – 14 in Chorrillos, and August 18 – 23 in Iquitos. Both trips are conducted through the Peruvian-American Medical Society. Dr. Gallagher has directed the Chorrillos mission for over 10 years, and it is recognized by the Peruvian-American Medical Society as a permanent PAMS mission.

“A medical or healthcare mission provides our students with a life-changing experience both personally and professionally. Mission volunteers are able to hone and expand their skillset, see how health care and its professionals operate in another country, and work with patients and staff from different cultures. In addition, the inter-professional collaboration is outstanding, and offers Lourdes students the opportunity to work with their peers from other healthcare professions and universities. Most importantly, we are able to help others who otherwise might not receive care,” Dr. Gallagher shares.