Anderson, Indiana

Global Nursing: A Student's Journey Beyond Borders

Mon, 2010-03-29 08:15 -- univcomm
March 29, 2010
Like every other senior at Anderson University, Megan Stout, a nursing major, is spending the year ensuring everything is on track for graduation in the spring. However, unlike many of her peers, Stout has already had an opportunity to practice the skills learned at AU globally. MegStoutThrough AU’s Tri-S program, Stout traveled to India where she worked at the Mother Teresa Home for the Dying and Destitute. The Mother Teresa Home was created to carry out Mother Teresa’s vision of caring for the underprivileged citizens in India who do not have means for proper health care. The institution provides comfort for the homeless who are dying, giving them peace in their last days. “It was a whirlwind of emotions when I landed in India,” said Stout. The group of AU students waited hours for the driver because of a communication barrier that the group didn’t expect to be so crippling. That barrier would last throughout their trip. “I remember this poor woman [at the Home] just wanting a glass of water but the communication barrier was so difficult that it took us forever to assist her needs. None of these people knew any English or common hand gestures and vice versa.” The emotional roller coaster continued when Stout was confronted by poor living conditions in India. “We basically took the sick off the streets, but we had no means or tools to cure them,” Stout said. “Every one of the patients was dying, and there was nothing we could do but try as best as we could to comfort them.”

Stout’s eyes were opened through first-hand experiences in the developing country in ways that she didn’t foresee prior to her arrival. While gaining pivotal nursing experience, she recalled life-long lessons that she brought back to the U.S.

“Although Americans are concerned with improving the current health-care system, it’s nothing compared to these poorer countries,” said Stout. “We have so many tools and medicines available in the U.S. to cure Americans from simple diseases, the same diseases that people in India are dying from right now. We also have access to ventilators, which is essentially prolonging the inevitable. These people knew they were going to pass. It was a privilege to help them in their last days.” [PHOTO: A crucifix sits atop the Kalighat building, where Mother Teresa established her Home for the Destitute and Dying in 1952.]

Stout’s calling into the medical field began as a child. Like many imaginative kids, Stout used toys to practice playing doctor. Her curiosity turned into motivation in high school. “I’ve always been fascinated with the human body and all of its complexities, especially after I studied it in anatomy,” Stout recalled. Her calling into nursing was only confirmed after diving into the subject at AU. “I enjoy how broad it is. Some people just think of a nurse in a hospital, but a nurse can work in one or all areas of medicine like mental health, government health care, or in the trauma unit,” Stout said.

“My goal and passion is to work in the trauma unit, mainly out of the Emergency Room. I think that is the biggest adrenaline rush. Every single day will be new and exciting because you will never know what is going to come into the trauma unit,” Stout said.

Stout has always had a passion for helping those in traumatic situations, but her passion turned into a career goal with help from Professor Sarah Neil. “Professor Neil shares my passion for the fast-paced life in the ER. She has provided great advice and expertise in that area, fueling my desire to work in the ER after graduation,” said Stout.

Stout is in the process of making her dream for the daily “adrenaline rush” a reality. She is applying for a trauma and critical care internship at a hospital in Dallas, Texas. “It is a one-month program, and I would be experiencing first-hand all of the units in the ER,” Stout said. However, her goals don’t end in Dallas.

“In five years I picture myself traveling from state to state, taking advantage of all the nursing opportunities available, before I settle down into family life,” said Stout. “I don’t want to stay in one area too long.”

Stout also plans to broaden her multicultural experiences by traveling to other underprivileged countries. “I don’t want to look back on my life with regrets. I want to take advantage of each and every opportunity while I am young enough to experience it all," she said.

— Joseph Matas is a junior from Anderson, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Matas is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.